Challenging The Narrative On Big 12 Defenses
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Playing in the Big 12 guarantees you one thing, your defense will get no respect.
If you are a defensive coordinator, you ought to name Rodney Dangerfield your captain.
You remember Rodney Dangerfield, don’t you?
“I get no respect. When I was born I was so ugly the doctor slapped my mother.”
“I get no respect. The way my luck is running, if I were a politician I’d be honest.”
“I get no respect. Yeah, I know I’m ugly… I said to a bartender, ‘Make me a zombie.’ He said ‘God beat me to it.’”
But that’s life in the Big 12, where offense rules. This year, not one preseason All-American first or second team defensive player came out of the Big 12.
Tony Gibson, West Virginia’s defensive coordinator, doesn’t believe they know what they are talking about.
“I think no one respects Big 12 defenses but here’s the deal,” he said the other day. “I have seen Big 12 teams in major bowl games, back when it was the BCS and now as CFP, I’ve never seen a Big 12 team go embarrass itself against any of those teams.”
His example was Oklahoma last year against Georgia.
“Oklahoma should have beaten Georgia, and what was Georgia’s defense, No. 5 in the country? They got lit up,” Gibson said, indicating that maybe it’s the speed and skill of the offenses in the league that makes the defenses look bad, not bad defensive play.
“I’d welcome all those teams from the SEC and Big Ten to face all these offenses. Every week come play one of them and see what happens,” he challenged.
He’ll get his chance to prove himself in the opening game at Charlotte on Saturday against Tennessee of the defensive-minded SEC.
West Virginia’s defense, as everyone knows, is anchored by linebacker David Long, who Gibson believes is one of the best defensive players ever to play at the school.
But he brings more than just technique and talent.
“He was a leader from Day 1. When he was a freshman he thought he was a leader,” Gibson stressed.
And that leadership role has grown.
“Right now he takes more responsibility. If we give up a play he might be more teed off than I am. He’s a great guy to have around because the kids listen to him because of the way he works and responds to things,” Gibson said.
Long explained what he is trying to do this year to get the defense up to its potential.
“I’ve been getting help from the older guys, like (redshirt senior safety Dravon) Dray (Askew-Henry), to bring everybody together and explain what we need, what we don’t need and to sort out the bad and the good. I’ve just tried to bring everybody together and get everyone on the right path,” he said.
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Tyron Carrier, WVU’s young and solid wide receiver coach, isn’t afraid to admit it.
He has help in coaching his group.
“I need help,” he said. “There’s a bunch of us right now. I put the older guys with those younger guys earlier in camp to try and teach them a little bit. The younger guys probably get tired of me yelling about this being the way, and the older guy can pull them aside and say, ‘Look, if you do this the way that coach is telling you, it works.’”
One suspects when David Sills V, who caught 18 touchdown passes last season, tells you something you tend to listen.
“David is the guy who talks to everybody – starters included – about certain things. Sometimes, he asks questions on how they did something and, sometimes, he can help them also,” Carrier said.