Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Faces Offseason Overhaul

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defense Faces Offseason Overhaul

Article excerpt

The offenses of the Big 12 were daunting for the West Virginia defense as the Mountaineers played their first season in the conference.

WVU's explosive offense was not capable of always scoring 50 to 70 points a game and posting losses by scores such as 55-34 (to Oklahoma State) revealed glaring deficiencies on defense.

Opponents amassed 500-plus passing yards three times against the Mountaineers defensive backfield, ranked worst in Division I football for most of the year.

Then, in the Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse of the Big East, the very familiar opponent rushed for 369 yards, beating the Mountaineers 38-14, and debunking the theory that the team's problems were simply rooted in being in a new league.

No matter why, defense held this team back in 2012, and will be a major area of focus in the offseason, according to Oliver Luck, West Virginia's athletic director.

Luck said Friday that changes will be made to improve the defense, including changes to the coaching staff and an emphasis on recruiting for depth.

"Clearly, we need to have a much more stout defense," said Luck. "I don't think any team can expect to simply outscore folks. I think our coaches, including Dana [Holgorsen], understand that. I think we need to continue to improve our recruiting. We're going to lose a handful of talented guys on the offensive side and also the defensive side. We need to continue to upgrade."

Luck said those improvements are connected to changes in the coaching staff, though he declined to share when or how many changes will be made.

"I can't talk about any personnel issues. I think we need to improve our coaching as well. Not sure you can disconnect the two," said Luck. "We need to improve both from our recruiting and what we have in the pipeline. Our depth really wasn't where we needed it to be in order to play in a very competitive conference like the Big 12. …

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