WVU DC Tony Gibson Needs More, Much More, To Be Comfortable In Big 12 Play
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s not just the 31 points allowed in the opener, or the pair of 400-yard plus games by West Virginia’s foes.
Tony Gibson could live with that. It’s correctable, for the most part, a step here or there, an improper fit, a missed assignment. What he can’t live with, has never been able to, is a lack of concentration and focus. Along with a mix of effort and execution, the two form a key duo that can’t be replicated even by the best of raw talents.
Right now, West Virginia isn’t getting it.
“We gave up just three points, but the thing that was frustrating was it just wasn’t a clean game,” Gibson said. “Missed too many tackles, guys on the ground a bunch. I didn’t like where we were. I got on them pretty hard at halftime. We came back out in the second half, and it was more of the same. Being up 49-3, I am sure they were disinterested a little bit, but you can’t do that.
“We don’t have enough guys, as we did in the past, to where you can rest those guys after a half and say ‘Let’s move on to Delaware State.’ I wanted to put heat on them, put pressure on them to see how they would respond and it wasn’t good. We have to get that fixed. I have to be careful knowing that we have so many young guys seeing their first action. We have to be better as a coaching staff.
“Right now I am not pleased with where we are at and I think we have a lot of work to do.”
That’s it in a nutshell. The Mountaineers are allowing just over 25 points per a game, a figure that expects to drop considerably against the next two opponents in Delaware State and Kansas. The 281 yards per game through the air, the 188 on the ground really aren’t bothersome. And the third down conversion rate of 31 percent is just about where Gibson wants it.
Then there’s the look, the true feel of the game. And this is where the difference enters between pure statisticians, and coaches of the game. Gibson knows what WVU’s odd stack is supposed to resemble, and the Mountaineers aren’t close. They have issues at corner, to the point where true freshman Kenny Robinson has slid over to the position from safety in an effort to shore mistakes.
Read that again: A true freshman is moving positions to help a two-deep that right now shows a pair of seniors in Elijah Battle and Mike Daniels. In fact, should the 6-foot-2 Robinson continue his solid play showed against ECU, there’s a chance he could see vastly increased time or even start. That shouldn’t be happening, but discouraging play and a lack of that focus – showed by Battle in a pair of poor plays versus Virginia Tech – has forced the hand.
“We have to keep coaching them there, keep developing depth,” Gibson said of the corners. “We gotta have a one and a two, and right now that’s kinda up in the air. We have to play with confidence at that position, and if not we are not going to be able to do what we do. We aren’t going to be able to pressure people, and in this league you can’t survive without pressuring the quarterback.”
Along the line, issues of depth have surfaced as expected, but been answered by another true freshman who is seeing increased snaps in Lamonte McDougle. The 5-10, 295-pounder plays with an excellent pad level thanks to his size, and showed well against Tech before his performance slipped a bit in the home opener. Still, he’s pushing Xavier Pegues for the starting role, a swap that could happen as early as this week.
“I thought he played really well against Virginia Tech, last week not as well,” Gibson said of McDougle. “He’s a freshman getting his first action, but he is a guy we can count on who will continue to play and develop. By game 10, 11 and 12 he will be as good as anybody we have up front. We’d like to get it down to eight (depth-wise). You’re going to need it, whether it be six ends and two nose guards. Keep watching it and keep developing guys.”