Expectations, Third Downs And A Pregame Mistake For WVU
The other day defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, whose defense has underperformed all season, was asked how many players on his defense were playing up to his standard.
His answer was brief.
“Three,” he said, naming redshirt senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, redshirt sophomore linebacker David Long and senior safety Kyzir White.
“Some things I liked, some I didn’t,” Gibson said. “He’s a kid who should be able to play spur, free or bandit and we never miss a beat, but, again, I hold him to different standard than any of these guys. The kid has started more games than anyone in this building.”
Henry has started all 34 of the games he’s played in his career at WVU.
Gibson admits to pushing him hard.
“I am probably harder on him than anyone else on our defense … No. 1, because of the relationship I have with him. I recruited him. I know what he can do and right now, it’s no secret he’s not playing well.
“He’s been told that. I challenged him this week in front of the whole defense.”
Askew-Henry is the type of player Gibson would expect to respond to such a challenge.
“He gets it. He’s tough. He’s tough to the core. He has to get some confidence. He has to trust his abilities. The kid is different in makeup, because he wants to be so good so badly. I think that slows him down a lot.”
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Gibson was presented with a hidden stat, noting that WVU in eight games this season had given up 13 touchdowns on third down.
It seemed to be a high number of TDs on third down, especially since WVU’s performance overall on third down just about matches what it was last season.
“If you look at third down we’re better now than we were a year ago,” Gibson noted.
So what happens is that so many TDs are scored there.
“If you look, some of those TDs were third and inches,” he said.
But that’s not at the heart of the matter.
“That’s missing a lot of tackles. Catching a ball over the top of somebody, that’s going to happen. That’s football. But the ones I don’t like are those third and seven and we have three guys there and can’t make a tackle..
Asked how it could get better, Gibson gave the obvious answer.
“It can get a lot better if we just tackle people. You go back to the TCU game. It happened two times in that game. The other day it happened two times. That’s four in two games. And in the Virginia Tech game it happened,” he said.
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Last week WVU was messed up right from the coin toss.
To begin with, when the captains met at midfield, WVU’s defensive captain Al-Rasheed Benton was going through his pregame ritual and couldn’t get out there, so offensive captain fullback Elijah Wellman went out alone.
WVU won the flip, which gives the choice to either kick or receive or defer the choice to the second half.
Wellman, however, was confused and said WVU would kick off rather than defer, which usually leads to the other team taking the ball. Fortunately, there was a brief discussion and the official explained to him that would mean they kicked off at both halves.
He then deferred.