Rowell: West Virginia's Defense is "Dummy-Proof" - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Rowell: West Virginia's Defense is "Dummy-Proof"


Football isn't some easy game to pick up and execute. Not too much of what is asked of a player is some natural ability and instinct, but from time to time, a coach can try to make it as simple as possible to avoid any possible confusion.

That's apparently what West Virginia University defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has done this year for the Mountaineers.

"Coach Patterson is making it as simple as possible, or let's say dummy-proof," said senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell.

Dummy-proof. If "dummy" is the worst the football players are being called in Morgantown so far this camp, that's a sign of progress. Last year, much harsher words emanated from the fan base and likely from the coaches and the players themselves, too.

"We've got a couple of plays he wants us to learn, so we'll be able to run them in a game. Then he's going to throw everything else in. Coach Patterson is making everything so simple, the only thing he wants us to do is dominate. He doesn't want us to think," Rowell said.

Certainly, a defensive player should be more instinctive in his game rather than standing there while he tries to figure out his assignment and the ball goes flying over his head.

Last year, the simple nature of the scheme left some of the defenders scratching their heads instead of attacking the offense. A former Mountaineer defender who asked to remain anonymous admitted over the summer that there were times when he and his teammates took the field and were not sure what was expected of them.

They just did not understand their assignments and found themselves over-thinking the entire process when all they wanted to do was play some football.

"We were a slant and angle team last year and moving sideways before you went forward. Now, we're more of a shaded alignment attacking up the field. It's different," defensive line coach Erik Slaughter said Saturday. "It's easier for the kids, but there's also technique that you have to have. Everybody can't just run up the field. You can to play technique as you go. Learning to do both of those is the key. You've got to stop the run, get people in definite passing situations, but while you're stopping the run, you've got to have tackles for losses."

Negative plays are a key in Patterson's defense and in any scheme that hopes to slow down a Big 12 offense. The plays must be signaled in quickly in order to have everyone lined up correctly before a high-tempo offense takes its next snap and so Rowell's point about limiting what is asked of the players is a good one.

"I think to play great defense, I've always been in the school that you line up and you play sound," Slaughter said. "You run to the football, you've got a bunch of guys who know what they're doing, get them on the same page and they play with tremendous effort. I think if we can do that, we'll have a chance to improve a lot."

The plan is to be extremely physical and to run downhill to wherever the ball happens to be. It's football. With a variety of looks out of what Patterson calls a multiple attacking 3-4 defense, the Mountaineers can create confusion for the offense by bringing down linebackers to give a 4-3 look and keep opponents guessing as to where the pressure will come from.

Just about everyone on the defensive side of the ball is talking about how much of an opportunity they have to show that last season's results were a fluke. But the confidence they've shown this camp is nothing new.

On Aug. 7, 2012, Rowell said in a similar interview, "I think we could be the best defense in the country."

His prediction was about the opposite of the truth. But when asked why this year's group will be more along the lines of what he expected then, he chalks it all up to experience.

"I don't know anybody who would get on camera and wouldn't say, ‘I'm the best.' If they do, I think they're idiots," Rowell said. "Being serious, though, I honestly feel like deep inside, we can be one of the best. From what we did from January to now, that's why I'm saying we can be one of the best." 

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