Slaughter's Troops Carry His Mentality for Mountaineers - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Slaughter's Troops Carry His Mentality for Mountaineers

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MORGANTOWN -

Erik Slaughter is trying to build a defensive line that mirrors himself. Maybe not his own frame, which would be too slight to play the position, but his mentality could rub off on a few of those who come to his practice every day.

The second-year West Virginia assistant was recently asked what he has seen in camp from his most experienced player, Will Clarke, and his answer was complementary – for the most part.

"Will's deal is he's a very nice young man and then when he gets on the field sometimes, he's a very nice young man," said Slaughter. "We're not out there to be friends with anyone. We're out there to win football games."

It wasn't an attack on the senior lineman, but rather an example of the type of attitude he hopes can infiltrate its way through the entire group. It starts with Slaughter and then trickles down to the players on the field.

"To me, he ought to take on the personality of his coach and I want to try to get some of what I bring to the table into him," Slaughter said of Clarke. "I've been here a year with him and I think we're making progress, but we've still got a long way to go."

So Clarke is a very nice young man. There are worse things to be called and it's made him one of the players head coach Dana Holgorsen likes to throw in front of the media as a representative of the team as a whole.

Slaughter just wants to see the intensity pick up and the attacking mentality take over. Call it the "nastiness" that fellow senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell says the entire unit possesses this season.

"I try to be nice off the field, but sometimes I get out there and I'm not so nice," said Slaughter. "I want to win and I want those guys to do good. I don't want to just be out there and be part of the team, I want us to dominate, be a strength of the team."

One of Slaughter's younger players is well aware of this mentality and the way the coach expects his pupils to carry themselves. Sophomore Eric Kinsey has learned well and in using what his coach teaches, he is working to secure a starting role on the front three.

"I'd say hard edge," Kinsey said in reference to Slaughter's mentality. "He doesn't like to lose at anything, for real. We're watching film and he doesn't like to be out-taught by another coach, so he makes sure we always put ourselves in a winning position."

With that in mind, the six losses in 2012 had to have made a real impact on Slaughter and Kinsey saw just that. Unlike some of the WVU coaches who avoid questions about the poor results of that season and want only to look forward, Slaughter will admit that he wakes up most mornings remembering what transpired and pushing himself to ensure it never does again.

He tells his players as much.

"He brings it up all the time when we feel like lagging in practice: 'Do you want to lose six games again?' And everybody's mentality just changes," said Kinsey.

It should. These players and coaches were embarrassed by what they experienced last year and have no intention of experiencing it again.

Slaughter believes it is his job to teach not only a position or a play on the field, but also a mentality to carry into every day and every snap.

"My personality is I'm not real patient," said Slaughter. "If guys are giving effort and trying to get to that point that I'm going to, then that's great. If they're not, we're going to have a problem."

Slaughter is hoping for more solutions than problems in 2013.

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