Offense “In Sync” While Defense Continues To Build
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The take from West Virginia’s latest scrimmage is a flip of the old ideal that defenses are ahead of offenses this time of year.
For the Mountaineers, it’s the opposite.
“We were killing them all week,” receiver Ka’Raun White said after the 100-play session on Friday.
Pardon the source, White being an offensive player, because linebacker Hodari Christian largely agreed, though perhaps to slightly lesser degree. The early competition between the two sides has seen the offense with the upper hand, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Mountaineers have a stable of running backs, a core group of four wideouts and a solid offensive front anchored by Kyle Bosch and Yodny Cajuste on the left side. They’ve also upgraded at quarterback with former high school All-American Will Grier, a transfer from Florida who was already pegged with the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year honor.
The defense? It replaces eight starters, must completely rebuild the line and has questions about the depth at linebacker, at least until the return of David Long in late September. It’s also searching for two new starting corners, a tall task when one of the departed was Rasul Douglas, tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions with eight. It’s difficult to imagine the Tony Gibson’s unit replicating its numbers of a year ago, when it finished second in the conference in scoring at 24 points per game while forcing 25 turnovers.
Multiple players said all the above showed this week, when Jake Spavital’s offense was effective across the board while the defense tried to keep pace.
“We were doing everything,” White said. “Run the ball, pass the ball. We got receivers making plays on both sides. Running backs, Eli (Wellman) scoring touchdowns. (Trevon) Wesco scoring touchdowns. We had a good week of practice on the offensive side. The defense would admit it. We were kicking them. But it’s all competitive at the end of the day.”
Indeed, and that’s what the coaches are trying to foster. Friday’s scrimmage provided a needed shot in the arm for the Dawgs – WVU’s mantra for its stop corps – who bit back.
“We were both getting at it, working to get each other better,” Christian said. “We went out and made each other better.”
White, though, admitted to taking the ‘L’ on Friday, saying that the “defense was on to us today. There are little things we need to work on. I think we did a good job.”
Details are scarce, as the scrimmages are all closed. But the staff appeared pleased with the effort, if not all the execution, from both sides. Now a dozen practices in, the team will take its second Saturday break – giving coaches time to review film from the session – then practice Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Classes begin Wednesday at WVU, and that’s when the Mountaineers will begin to ramp up preparations for Virginia Tech and ready for their mock game week.
“We’re talented on both sides of the ball,” wideout David Sills said. “Defense has some great players and Gibson always has them schemed up. It goes both ways during practice in camp. We have gotten them most of the time and they have gotten us a few times. We go out there every day to beat them and they go out there to beat us. We’re getting in a good spot in coming to the end of camp. We’re in sync right now and we need to finish that through camp and get ready for Sept. 3.”