West Virginia defense among worst in nation
College Football Videos
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, which explains the West Virginia coaching staff's frustration with the Mountaineers' struggling defense.
WVU ranks No. 120 in passing defense, No. 115 in scoring defense, No. 113 in total defense, No. 113 in third-down defense and No. 97 in red zone defense.
“I'm embarrassed,” defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said Saturday after WVU's 55-14 loss to Kansas State, which scored on its first eight possessions. “This is not how West Virginia defense is played. They were built on defense.”
WVU scores 41.1 points per game, but its defense yields 39.9. Big 12 opponents are averaging 53.0 points against the Mountaineers.
“What do you want me to change?” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We played somewhere in the neighborhood of probably 30 players on defense (against Kansas State). They are what we got.”
West Virginia's highest ranking in the major defensive categories is No. 40 in rushing defense, which is deceiving considering its opponents' success in the passing game.
Only four teams have more total passing yards than WVU's 2,464. But the Mountaineers' defense has yielded 2,521.
“We've tried everything,” DeForest said. “Maybe that's our fault as a staff. We've tried to cover up our deficiencies. Then we tried to do other things to give them the ability to mix it up. We're searching right now.”
Of the approximately 30 defensive players who saw action against Kansas State, Holgorsen said nearly one-third were freshmen.
“I looked out there on several different occasions and saw eight or nine freshmen out there,” Holgorsen said.
Added DeForest: “We're just trying to find a guy to make a play.”
When West Virginia faces TCU on Nov. 3, DeForest promises a simpler scheme to help younger players. But a simpler defensive look also could make it easier for opponents.
At this point, the coaching staff may be willing to try anything.
“It's our job as coaches to get them to understand,” DeForest said. “If that means going out there in one front and one coverage ... we're going to play this front and this coverage until you get it right. Then we'll move on to the next one.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.