What is more scrutinized than the presidential debate answers? The West Virginia defense for one.
With the second presidential debate having took place, and with the swell of fact checking articles to ensue, let’s take a quick look at the facts regarding WVU’s defense.
The Mountaineers defense ranks 43rd against the run, 118th against the pass, 109th in scoring defense, and 114th in total defense. Those numbers are more depressing than the national debt forecasts. Like both candidates plans for the national budget, there is no clear solution to fixing WVU’s defense.
Darwin Cook said that the biggest issue is the mental focus of the defense:
I don’t feel like there’s confusion. It’s a lack of mental effort. We have to get the calls known around us. As a leader, you have to communicate that to everybody. We just have to get better on that part, communication.
Any passive follower of college football could tell you that the defense has looked to be confused and mentally out of it. Some, myself included, have questioned whether the Mountaineers defense has struggled to adapt to the new schemes put in place by DeForest and Patterson. Darwin Cook goes on to explain that the schemes are not an issue at all:
It doesn’t factor, you can’t make excuses just because of a new scheme and new coaches. We still have to go out there as players and make plays. You can’t just blame it on new coaches and schemes, you just have to make plays.
So if it is not the schemes, and it is just a matter of players staying mentally involved, then there is a lack of leadership as Cook points out. Obviously, the burden falls on the upperclassmen and coaches to motivate the defense and to keep each other sharp. As Doug Rigg says, there is a need for the defense to keep their composure:
We have to be very disciplined. We weren’t disciplined at all last weekend. We have to read our keys.
Discipline and focus are lacking, which is tremendously limiting the capabilities of this defensive unit. There is a wealth of young talent on the defense that, with the proper leadership, can evolve into stud players. The development of the young players will not happen overnight and this defensive unit will not suddenly become one of the elite units in the nation this season. All that can be asked of the defense is that they put in the work necessary to elevate this team to a place where we can contend for a Big XII Championship and put the team on the path to future success.
Look for a fact check of this article tomorrow, citing a different study of the WVU defense.