West Virginia’s problem on defense should easily be fixed

AMES, IA Ð NOVEMBER 26: Running back David Montgomery
AMES, IA Ð NOVEMBER 26: Running back David Montgomery /

The West Virginia defense has held the team back this season. A few more stops here and there and the Mountaineers should be unbeaten at 7-0.

Instead, West Virginia is 5-2 overall and remains in a good position to make some noise in the crucial point of the season. The defense, that has given up an average of 460 yards per game, has really showed no signs that it can stay consistent and get stops when needed.

Many fans can ask how this is still an ongoing problem. Well, in his session with media members this week, defensive assistant coach Matt Caponi seems to have identified a key problem.

For Caponi, who has been with West Virginia for two seasons, spotting the problem may have been easy. Last year, he had a veteran-laden group. This year, there are first-year players across the unit. But the main problem goes beyond just using the excuse of having too many young guys, Caponi said to WVUsports.com.

"It’s our guys; it’s a lot of missed assignments. Just little things that you don’t see on field much in the game until you come back and watch the replay and watch it and correct it. Guys maybe locking too long in zone coverage on receivers when they should be getting their eyes back to the quarterback."

A lot of those problems could be due to many of the players being young, or it’s their first season with the Mountaineers. But the sole of those issues comes down to basic fundamentals that it appears West Virginia lacks this season.

There has been poor tackling performances and players haven’t been hitting the way they should. That could be because they are out of position in the first place and messing up their assignments. A lack of communication between a green unit also adds to the lackluster showings.

If West Virginia wants to beat Oklahoma State this weekend, the defense has to snap out of their issues rather quickly. Mason Rudolph may have a field day against this defense. Or, the Mountaineers may finally buckle down and get the job done. Caponi feels he knows what it will take to stop Rudolph and get his defense to follow along with his plan, he told WVUsports.com.

"Just doing a little bit better of a job understanding the situation and know when we’re playing man coverage, knowing where the sticks are, knowing when we can be aggressive, and when we shouldn’t be. It’s all things that we can clean up and we have made corrections. Hopefully, we’ll be better at it this week."

The schedule the rest of the way will not be kind to the Mountaineers. The offense has the ability to sling it around just as well as Rudolph and the Cowboys can. But that won’t mean a thing if the Cowboys can’t be stopped by a subpar defense.

Next: Schedule announced for 2018 football season

Weather may have a factor on Saturday’s game, which could help the defense. But wet and soggy conditions may just mean the Mountaineers are even more out of position.