Holgorsen Talks Multiplicity of WVU Defense - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Holgorsen Talks Multiplicity of WVU Defense


When a program is working with its fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons, it is understandable that the most persistent line of questioning is just what on earth will be different this go around.

Joe DeForest faced those questions when he took over for Jeff Casteel prior to the 2012 season. Keith Patterson told reporters what his philosophy was when DeForest was pushed aside and now the inquiries are pointed to, well, just about everybody on the staff.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen took a crack at defining the defense that Tony Gibson is implementing this spring when the team opened its practice to the public in Morgantown.

"It's what I've wanted to do since I've been here," Holgorsen said. "It's an odd defense and the reason I want to run an odd defense is because it can be very multiple. If you're a four-down defense, you can't be multiple with that. If you're a three-down defense, then you can be multiple with it. We've always wanted to be multiple."

The response sounds quite similar to what Patterson said before the 2013 season, which resulted in a 4-8 record. Back in August, less than a year ago, Patterson called his outfit "a multiple, attacking 3-4 defense."

"We want to try to create confusion in the mind of the quarterback," Patterson said at the time. "Not just by trying to impact the quarterback physically, but also before the ball is ever snapped. Put doubt in his mind."

That defense ranked at the very bottom of the Big 12 conference, giving up 295 yards per game through the air. League quarterbacks must not have been too confused by what WVU threw at them, either, as the Mountaineers had the fewest sacks in Big 12 action with just 10 total against conference opponents.

"It was probably a little too multiple last year. It was still an odd defense last year, but it got to where we were doing too many different things," Holgorsen said. "Last year, I don't think we did a very good job of lining up quick. We faced so many tempo offenses that defensively, we need to be able to line up quick. I think they're doing an excellent job of that right now."

Holgorsen says that Gibson has done a good job simplifying things on the defensive side of the ball, but simplification has been the talk of every offseason since the 3-3-5 left Morgantown. Last year, senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell believed that the defense was so simple that he called it "dummy-proof."

Now, with a scheme that appears to be heading back in the direction of what Casteel ran with the Mountaineers, the talk is the same.

Holgorsen says the key is that their defensive philosophy is to deploy the looks that give his own offense the biggest fits.

"Everybody in the Big 12 runs a similar version of what we do offensively," Holgorsen said. "The thing that gives us the most problems is an odd defense that can give you a bunch of different looks. That's what we're going to do."

New Senior Associate Head Coach Tom Bradley, working with the defensive line this season, thinks the biggest perk his defense has working in its favor is that it goes up against a fast-paced offense each day in practice.

"That's one of the great things about the way we practice here, we are able to get that pace of play at practice all day," Bradley said. "You see it at different times during practice, we get a tempo period and then we start to get these periods we have here. It's a lot of plays being run and one of the first things you have to do on defense – I know it sounds trite – you've got to be able to get lined up."

Versatility in individual players will be of the utmost importance this season as the Mountaineers attempt to run a variety of looks with the same personnel. There simply isn't time in college football to substitute a different package onto the field each time the down and distance changes. WVU needs to be able to attack an offense in any situation, regardless of who is in the game.

That is where the multiplicity comes into play.

"We've got some very good athletes on that defensive line that we're expecting them to be able to do different things," Bradley said. "That's what will make this scheme good is that everybody that's on our defense, hopefully, is going to be able to do more than one thing."

Finding the middle ground between being multiple and being "too multiple," as Holgorsen put it, will be Gibson's task through the end of spring and into fall camp and the season.

"You've got to remain simple and sound with it," Holgorsen said. "We don't want to trick anybody with what we're doing, but we want to be able to get into a bunch of different things and line up quick and be able to bring different looks, which is an odd, multiple defense."

The classification is not important. The results are. 

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