WVU Defense Hopes to be Master of Disguise - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Defense Hopes to be Master of Disguise

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia's defense is working to become a master of disguise. With players rotating on and off the field and at individual positions, the Mountaineers hope to create confusion for opposing offenses that try to figure them out.

"When we can give multiple looks and multiple concepts with the same people on the field, I think that poses some problems at times," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "From what I've been evaluating, I think that we have a lot of young men that fit into that category, really."

Part of it comes with the territory of playing in the Big 12 and the high snap count the Mountaineers will face throughout the conference schedule. If Patterson can get his defense into a variety of looks and packages without having to substitute, then he can keep up with the torrid pace the offenses will be operating at.

When he does substitute, though, by having a depth chart littered with capable bodies, he can keep his starters fresh without skipping a beat.

Of course, all of this is thinking in an ideal world, but head coach Dana Holgorsen is becoming a believer based on what he's seen in practice.

"Our first group is really coming along, and it is where we have the most experience coming back," Holgorsen said of the defense. "First team, we are really happy with, and the motivational level they are playing with is extremely satisfying."

That first team currently consists of players ranging from an outside linebacker in junior college transfer Brandon Golson to a steady veteran in linebacker Doug Rigg. Rigg will tell you that the linebacker positions are interchangeable and with that, the players can line up either inside or outside and still execute any given play.

That, he believes, will keep offenses guessing when they line up across from WVU in the fall.

"It made us more versatile," said Rigg. "I think it's really going to give an offense a different look with guys at different spots because you're just trying to key one guy in one spot and they're in a different spot the next second."

It's all part of the plan for Coach Patterson, who utilizes defensive ends and linebackers in different roles to ensure that the positions remain versatile.

"Football is a game of match-ups," Patterson said. "Offense is trying to get a better match-up with a mismatch on our guy, we're trying to get in those match-ups whether it be on offensive linemen from a pass protection standpoint or trying to get someone who can cover a wide receiver, it's all about match-ups. It's a chess game all the time."

At the same time, there will be a need to give the defenders a breather and that is where developing the depth on that side of the ball becomes such a big factor. As the offenses rip off play after play, the defense wears down and having a reserve at many or all of the positions will allow the starters some time to rest for a later series.

"That's great for me," Rigg said with a chuckle. "I'm getting old now, I'm not a freshman no more, so I'm trying to just get out there and play the snaps I play pretty hard. Some of those games last year, I felt like I was going to die after. Having a two-deep and routine breaks throughout the game is going to help everybody."

The work to field a better product on defense began as soon as last season ended in New York City. Patterson is hopeful that his troops are better prepared now to approach 2013 with an improved mentality to produce the results they expect.

"I think they understand that's what it's going to take to be great," said Patterson. "I think we've spelled out to them the difference between good and the difference between great. Good teams do things right most of the time, great teams do things right all of the time."

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