WVU Defense: ‘By Committee’ Coordination Approach For 2020 Football Season

West Virginia assistant coach Jahmile Addae (right) works with cornerbacks

West Virginia’s two returning defensive coaches from the 2019 season will share coordination responsibilities for the 2020 campaign. Additionally, as expected, Jeff Casteel, who was hired by WVU four months ago as a defensive analyst, has been elevated to an assistant position and will coach the outside linebackers.

The Mountaineers had to fill a hole in their staff left by the departure of Vic Koenning, who had previously been WVU’s defensive coordinator and safeties coach. West Virginia’s separation with Koenning was announced last week after an investigation into alleged insensitive comments made by Koenning.

With Koenning’s departure, WVU head coach Neal Brown decided to split the defensive coordinator duties. Jordan Lesley will oversee the front of the defense, and Jahmile Addae will handle the back. Casteel will coach the outside linebackers, and Dontae Wright will now coach the safeties. Jeff Koonz will coach the inside linebackers and oversee the special teams units.

Wright was originally hired to coach the outside ‘backers, but will now move to oversee the safety spots. That makes room for Casteel to work with the outside linebackers, where he has extensive experience.

“Given the timing and unique circumstances surrounding the pandemic, we are going to divide responsibilities and use a committee approach,” WVU head coach Brown said. “We are promoting Jeff Casteel to an on-the-field position and know he will be a great contributor. We have an outstanding group of defensive coaches, and I have the utmost confidence in their ability.”

WVU defensive line coach Jordan Lesley

West Virginia installed a new defense last year, and it had only two coaches returning on that side of the ball – Lesley and Addae. The uniqueness of the 4-2-5 base alignment, with many variations, also likely contributed to the decision to elevate from within. It is not a scheme run by many teams, which meant a pool of candidates from outside the program was limited. Also contributing is the timing of the needed replacement; WVU is already on the field for small group workouts and is slated to begin more extensive practice sessions in early August.

Casteel returned to West Virginia on March 27, 2020, as a defensive analyst. He brings 33 years of defensive coaching experience, including 11 years at WVU (2001-11) where he helped the Mountaineers win three BCS bowl games. In his 32 years as a college coach, the Paden City, West Virginia, native has helped guide teams to 14 conference championships and 15 bowl appearances and has mentored numerous All-Americans and professional players.




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  • #119798

    West Virginia’s two returning defensive coaches from the 2019 season will share coordination responsibilites for the 2020 campaign. Additionally, as e
    [See the full post at: WVU Defense: ‘By Committee’ Coordination Approach For 2020 Football Season]

    #119808

    Well, it shows what I know about running a P5 defense.  Split coordinator duties will be interesting.  And who makes the on the field defensive calls?

    #119817

    All good questions, but some indications from last year:

    Vic Koenning signaled in the defensive front calls and Al Pogue signaled the coverages. So, replicating that this year (Lesley and Addae?) would be new faces, but still a similar procedure.

    Not saying I’m in favor of this, but there are a number of schools that do similar things, like a run game and a pass game coordintor on offense. Still, at some point there has to be a final decision maker, especially in heat of game moments.

    #119823

    Seems a bit strange but given the timing of the changes there really isn’t a better option at the moment.

    Having Casteel in house proved very lucky indeed. Good experienced coach the youngsters can lean on as well. Has to be hard for him to “stay in his lane” I’m sure but he’s an old pro so he will handle it well while providing needed experience/guidance for the others.

    #119826

    Agreed, mex.  And Jeff can definitely do some good coaching outside backers – in his wheel house, so to speak.

    As to dual coordinators, it reminds me of the Ancient Roman Republic in which each year you had two counsels – the term of a counsel was one year and they took turnabout each month in the senior position on the dais in the Senate chamber.  Can’t quite do a game by game flip flop in this situation, but I do think one of them has to be designated the final authority in the heat of the game.

    Notice, for those of a snarky bend that I did NOT say dueling coordinators.  🙂

    #119828

    Casteel to position coach is a very smooth transition.  NB is lucky to have him in the wings.  I can see the reasoning for CoDC’s.  Best solution considering.  Neither have the experience we need to run the D.  But it is what it is given the timing of VK’s exit.

    #119829

    Given that Jeff is on the field this year, do we see him in this position next year?  I kinda liked him in the analyst position.

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Home Page forums WVU Defense: ‘By Committee’ Coordination Approach For 2020 Football Season

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