First Impression of WVU Defense May Not Be the Right One

First Impression of WVU Defense May Not Be the Right One


MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Sometimes first impressions are the most lasting, which may be why a lot of people came out of Saturday’s 59-16 victory over Delaware State thinking the defense wasn’t up to what it should have been.

That first impression was a bummer, the Hornets fooling WVU’s defense completely, especially Marvin Gross, making his first start at bandit in place of the injured Toyous Avery, who was out with an unannounced hand injury.

Apparently the secrecy didn’t help at all because Delaware State pulled of a beauty of a play that went for an 81-yard touchdown.

“Just a bust,” Gross said. “I was a little confused.”

The Hornets had put a man in motion and Gross didn’t follow him, instead biting on quarterback Jack McDaniels’ fake, which opened up the field for the play.

But the fact of the matter was it was really all the first team defense gave up all day, the only third down pick up the Hornets were able to get.

“That first touchdown was tough,” coach Dana Holgorsen admitted. “I think Tony Gibson was, for the most part, happy with the defense. Our first string played pretty good with the exception of two plays. The difference was they scored on one and didn’t score on the other.”

“I thought we tackled very well in the open field,” Gibson said. “Very few missed tackles. I thought we played physical, had some big hits. When we did blitz and pressure the quarterback we got after him pretty good. I was happy with the 1s, not so happy with the 2s.”

JUST A NUMBER: Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, at 34, is the youngest coach in Division I.

Does it help or hinder him?

“I honestly don’t think its as big a factor as made out in public,” he said. “At the end of day you’ve got to coach the team and manage the program and relate to players and recruits.”

Of course, at such a young age he might have an easier time relating than the 76-year-old Bill Snyder of Kansas State.

“It might be some advantage being in tune with what these players are thinking a doing but in the end you either are doing the job or not,” he said. “It’s kind of a cop out to say you’re inexperienced and that’s why things aren’t going well.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are 34 or 64.”

How has Bill Snyder been able to keep it going all these years at Kansas State?

Perhaps because he is a coach with a heart who truly cares for his players, as he evidenced once again on Tuesday.

Given the chance to state whatever rule in football he would like to see changed, he went off on a route that only he would take. No targeting rule, no relays, no extra official … no sir.

“I’d change the rule that puts some very strict limitations on the amount of time you can spend with a young person in your program as it relates to things other than football,” he said.

Right now a coach is allowed 20 hours a week with his players.

“You can live with that in regards to football practice, but there are other considerations on how a coach and his staff can impact their players,” Snyder said, noting that players often have personal problems or need guidance that takes a good bit of counseling.

“We can do things to enhance their lives,” he noted, but the chance for that is limited by the time restraints.

SATURDAY’S LEFTOVERS:

— Justin Crawford not only had his third consecutive 100-yard rushing performance but his first three touchdown game. He is currently the Big 12’s leading rusher with 108.7 yards a game.

— This should give you an idea of how good the quarterback play is in the Big 12. WVU’s Will Grier is fifth in passing yardage with 342.3 per game. Now it’s true he played only one half plus one series in two of the three games, but still.

And get this, Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek is leading the league, averaging 463.5 yards a game.

— Backup quarterback Chris Chugunov completed a pass to his brother, Mitch, as well as throwing his first career TD pass.

— WVU is now 18-0 against NCAA FCS schools and 7-0 under Dana Holgorsen.

— Champions for the Delaware State game were offense, fullback Elijah Wellman; defense, Al-Rasheed Benton and special teams, Brendan Ferns. The scout champions were offense, T.J. Simmons and defense, Connor Barwis.