Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Motivated Defense Wants to Erase Memories of '12

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Motivated Defense Wants to Erase Memories of '12

Article excerpt


Nose tackle Shaq Rowell has been fixated on a three-digit number since the end of last season: 118.

That's where West Virginia's pass defense was ranked at the end of the year -- 118 of 120 teams.

He logged onto a computer one night, and looked it up.

"Every player on the team should know where we were ranked," said Rowell at the start of preseason last week, no longer haunted by the statistic. "Baylor was last. Kansas was second to last and we were third to last. Let's be honest, you put the film on, and everybody knew: 'We don't have to run the ball. Let's throw it.' I went online and looked at it myself -- 118th, eighth the Big 12. If I keep that in my head, I guarantee that won't happen again."

A more obvious motivation may never again exist for West Virginia's defense.

With an offense expected to rebuild with a fair amount of ease despite major turnover, it is the potential of the defense that will likely determine how the second year in the Big 12 goes.

Keith Patterson was promoted to defensive coordinator before the Pinstripe Bowl and has been methodically rebranding the 3-4 in subtle ways that players speak very highly of.

"I love coach Patterson's scheme. It's so simple. And it's attack. Everything is Attack! Attack! Attack!," Rowell said. "I think that'll bring more sacks and more production to the defense. We won't be ranked 118th and eighth in the Big 12 this year, I tell you that much."

Will Clarke, a defensive end moved to tackle this year, said Patterson's scheme includes more aggressive blitzing, subtly different coverages and more pressure from the front seven, designed to take away those massive passing gains.

He also said Patterson reminds him of former coordinator Jeff Casteel in certain ways.

"[Patterson] is your typical linebacker coach. Tough, hard- nosed," Clarke said. …

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