WVU Defense Showing Signs Of Improvement - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Defense Showing Signs Of Improvement

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MORGANTOWN -

Take the West Virginia University football team a year ago and flip it. The offense was returning nearly all of its starters while the defense was young and inexperienced. Now it is the offense that is inexperienced while the defense has established leaders and experienced players throughout.

The defense can really only go up after a poor season a year ago. The Mountaineers ranked statistically among the worst defenses in the country in numerous categories.

That should change this season. There are experienced players returning and already taking on a leadership role within the defense.

"I think (Darwin) Cook has developed as a player and a leader we thought he could be on the back end," Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson said. "I like Will (Clarke) and Shaq (Rowell) up front. We are still a bit green at linebacker. When you have leadership up front and leadership on the back end, I feel good with where we are."

The defense looked good in the Gold-Blue game applying pressure and registering six sacks. That side of the ball also forced turnovers and made the quarterbacks uncomfortable for most of the game.

"We tried to play our base scheme," Patterson said after the Gold-Blue game. "I wanted to see where they were from the standpoint of being able to communicate and run to the football with a purpose and take proper angles and finish plays."

Patterson has tried to take the approach of making plays easier for his players to understand. He is trying to take thinking too much out of the equation so they react faster to the plays. Patterson is also trying to create confusion for the offense making it easier for his players to apply pressure without blitzing.

"Our defense is relatively unorthodox in the way our fronts and coverages are tightened together," Patterson stated. "It creates a lot of pressure on the offensive line to get the protection going the right way. Sometimes they slide it to someone who is not going to rush, so when you can sit there and rush three or bring four, there can be a free-hitter on the backfield or the quarterback."

Getting pressure on the quarterback is a big area of needed improvement from a year ago. The Mountaineers did not get much pressure allowing opposing quarterbacks to have plenty of time to find an open receiver downfield.

Granted, the sample size was small in the setting of the Gold-Blue game, but getting pressure appeared to be easier for the defense. Coverage downfield was also much better in the spring game. There are some good things happening on defense to build on when training camp begins in August.

"I feel really good about the foundation that we built this spring," Patterson said with a smile. "We will add some missing pieces to the puzzle this fall and I think we are going to show a lot of improvement."

The Mountaineers will need to count on their defense to take some of the pressure of their young and inexperienced offense. It is crazy how that situation flipped in the span of just one year.

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