Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WVU Defense Needs to Get Back to Aggressive Ways

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WVU Defense Needs to Get Back to Aggressive Ways

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN - The defense West Virginia has been forced to distance itself from this season first appeared against Texas Tech last season. Charged with keeping the score tied and getting the ball back for the offense one last time, Tony Gibson unleashed hell. The Mountaineers' defensive coordinator blitzed on six consecutive snaps and used the same blitz five times. The Red Raiders took over at their 30-yard line with 2:03 remaining and punted with 52 seconds to go. WVU won 37-34 on Josh Lambert's 55-yard field goal as time expired.

Those were the Mountaineers the rest of the way, a relentless group who would not listen to lectures they were doing it wrong. Texas Tech allowed just five sacks in 280 pass attempts before that drive. Gibson later blitzed 48 times on 79 snaps against Baylor, and WVU lived to celebrate it.

That personality existed though Gibson's contract extension in the offseason and his preseason proclamation the 2015 defense should be a great one. It was there for the 3-0 start, when the Mountaineers allowed the fewest points in the nation. But it's disappeared lately as players have disappeared from the field and robbed Gibson of the ability to blitz and cover receivers behind the pressure.

Gibson can't afford to wait for players to return to full strength. Not during a four-game losing streak. He has to restore the aggression that's been lost. The Red Raiders (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) ought to remind the Mountaineers (3-4, 0-4) of who they were and who they still might be in time for Saturday's noon Fox Sports 1 game at Mountaineer Field.

"We have to get back to our personality and how we play defense, Gibson said.

That would seem to require the waving of a magic wand. Safety Karl Joseph is out for the season. Cornerback Terrell Chestnut can play up until one blow to his shoulder knocks him out of the game. Safety K.J. Dillon, cornerback Daryl Worley and linebacker Shaq Petteway each ache.

That necessitates reactions, and each limits the defense. Cornerback Nana Kyeremeh and safeties Jarrod Harper and Jeremy Tyler are playing more than ever. Defensive end Isaiah Bruce and safeties Marvin Gross and Khairi Sharif are playing positions they'd never played before last week. …

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