WVU's secondary improving
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Free safety Ryan Mundy has seen a shift in West Virginia's secondary from the start of the season.
"We're more focused, and we're having fun," Mundy said.
The former Woodland Hills High School and Michigan starter expects to face his toughest test of the season when Lousiville quarterback Brian Brohm takes aim on No. 7 West Virginia in a Big East game Nov. 8 at Milan Puskar Stadium.
However, Brohm won't be facing the same secondary he torched for 354 yards and a touchdown in last season's 44-34 Cardinals' victory in Louisville, Ky.
Mundy has helped reinvigorate a unit that ranked 109th in the nation last season and gave up an average of 243.3 passing yards per game.
With Mundy stepping in as the only new starter this season, West Virginia's defense has picked off 11 passes, while allowing 161 passing yards per game, and just three passing scores in the past six games.
"Our guys are playing better this year because they're playing with more confidence," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "These guys have taken it to the next step."
Rodriguez said Mundy graded out well in Saturday's 31-3 Big East victory over Rutgers. Rutgers was ranked 13th in total offense, but produced only 131 passing yards and 314 total yards against West Virginia.
"We have a lot of confidence in Ryan Mundy," Rodriguez said.
Mundy joined the Mountaineers this season after starting 18 of 35 games and playing in three Rose Bowls for Michigan.
The NCAA allowed him to transfer because he had graduated in sports management, had a season of eligibility remaining, and his post-graduate program (Masters in athletic coaching) wasn't offered at Michigan. The transfer rule since has been rescinded, but too late to prevent Mundy from making an impact in the current conference race.
|Secondary report card|
|Here's a breakdown of what WVU's secondary has given up in the first eight games:|
Mundy grabbed the team lead with three interceptions this season, and he's broken up four more passes, including a potential touchdown pass against Rutgers. He jarred the ball loose from Scarlet Knights wide receiver Tiquan Underwood in the end zone after quarterback Mike Teel delivered it on target.
Mundy caught a school-record 54 passes as a Woodland Hills receiver before switching to defense at Michigan.
He made 86 career tackles and three interceptions in the Wolverines' four-man secondary.
Note: Rodriguez said he'll never order his team onto the field to take an intentional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty similar to what Georgia coach Mark Richt did against Florida on Saturday. Georgia players followed Richt's orders and stormed the field and drew numerous penalty flags. "If you see a bunch of our guys running out on the field, you're going to see a bunch of our coaches running after them, grabbing them by the back of the shoulder pads and jerking them back," Rodriguez said.