Dee-Fense! Dee-Fense! The Call For WVU

Dee-Fense! Dee-Fense! The Call For WVU


MORGANOTWN, W.Va. — There is something happening here that makes this season seem different than others for West Virginia, a certain something that offers a reason to believe that this may not just be a fast start for a Mountaineer team but instead something that it can ride through the easy early sledding into the avalanche of tough games that are stacked up at the end.

That something is D-E-F-E-N-S-E.

It is a disruptive, destructive defense, a defense that, yes, has some holes that must be patched, but that covers it by emphasizing its strengths.

In a game where the offense scored 35 points, where Will Grier threw five touchdowns, three 1-yard scores to Saturday’s TD hero, David Sills, and two cross country scores of 82 and 62 yards to Marcus Simms and Tevin Bush, respectively, it was that defense that made the difference.

“If we hold opponents to six points, we are going to win a lot of ball games,” Grier said after the game.

The game, as it turned out, swung on one defensive series, with WVU clinging to a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter and not playing particularly well up to that point on offense. Kansas State gained nine yards on first down to give it a second and 1 on its 43.

The Wildcats had three downs to make one yard when they started. When they finished they were back at their 39, giving up the ball on downs as WVU stuffed everything they tried, including a fourth-down option.

West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson gathers his defense for instructions

That play, which lost four yards, was made by middle linebacker Dylan Tonkery, who is a story in himself for in his last game, against Youngstown State, he made zero tackles.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a Mike linebacker go an entire game without making a tackle,” Gibson said last week.

He also admitted that he spent much of this week reminding Tonkery of that fact, getting the point across with all the gentleness of hitting him with a sledgehammer.

“Gibby was mentioning it all week,” Tonkery said. “And I was hearing it from the other guys, too. David [Long] was on me pretty good.”

That, he swore, would not be repeated and in this one he had a big game with five tackles, including that one that changed the complexion of everything.

“It changed the momentum,” Grier noted.

The offense scored the next two times it had the ball.

The question is, what makes this defense tick? Why is it so disruptive, so destructive? Why does it have 30 tackles for a loss in three games?

“I’m not going to tell you that,” Holgorsen said, but he thought about it for a moment and realized that some generalities fit the question.

“This is a fun group to coach,” he said. “Gibby has them playing hard and they are fast and that makes them disruptive.”

He noted that Kenny Bigelow in the middle has been reborn, that Ezekiel Rose is a leader, that the defense is mature and, of course, it goes without saying that linebacker David Long is just a special player.

Long had nine more tackles and two sacks, one of them a magical bit of defensive work as he split two players and rushed to the quarterback in time to put him down.

“It was a mistake,” Long said. “Honestly, he over-read me. I went inside and I wasn’t supposed to.”

And that sprung him free.

A wrong move? Gibson didn’t care.

“I let him do a lot of stuff that I don’t let a lot of the other guys do,” Gibson said. “He has that kind of ability.”

But if there is one thing that makes this defense really special it is its speed.

“Over the last five years, this is the fastest defense I’ve had,” Gibson said.

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It shows itself over and over. The Kansas State receivers could not work free for most of the game. The running backs couldn’t get where they were going.

But there was one play in particular that emphasized the speed of the defense, and it wasn’t even a play where there was a tackle made.

Kansas State’s quarterback was scrambling toward the sideline and losing ground with each step, getting out of bounds just before he would he have been caught … by nose guard Darius Stills.

“He came to the sideline, huffing and puffing, and said to me, ‘I really thought I had him.”

Stills weighs 293 pounds.

“The thing is, I told them they had to go 100 percent all the time,” Gibson said. “This is college football. You will blow assignments. You will miss coverages. You will miss tackles. But the one thing you will not do is loaf.

“This year, I have depth. If a guy loafs and I can sit him on the sideline or a quarter or two and get through to him.”

Home forums Dee-Fense! Dee-Fence! The Call For WVU

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Butlereer Butlereer .

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  • #69897

    Dee-Fense! Dee-Fence! The Call For WVU MORGANOTWN, W.Va. — There is something happening here that makes this season seem different than others for We
    [See the full post at: Dee-Fense! Dee-Fence! The Call For WVU]

    #69946

    I saw Stills tracking him and mighty impressed with his speed. The other impressive speed play was when Washington blitzed from the corner, Thompson drifted to the opposite side and was about to tuck and run it when Washington tracked him like a heat seeking missile and sacked him.

    #69952

    I saw Stills tracking him and mighty impressed with his speed. The other impressive speed play was when Washington blitzed from the corner, Thompson drifted to the opposite side and was about to tuck and run it when Washington tracked him like a heat seeking missile and sacked him.

    EVERYONE KNOWS I’VE ADMIRED GIBBY’S WORK FOR A LONG TIME. HOLDING ANY BIG 12 TEAM TO NO TOUCHDOWNS IS A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT. ALLOWING A FEW POINTS IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN GIVING UP A FEW HUNDRED YARDS. IT’S THE DIFFERENT BETWEEN BEING ABLE TO JUMP ONTO YOUR ROOF AND BEING ABLE TO JUMP TO THE MOON.

    TEXAS TECH WILL BE A MAJOR, MAJOR TEST FOR THE DEFENSE AND THE OFFENSE. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT ALTHOUGH, WITH 18 TO 22 YEAR OLDS, UNPREDICTABILITY IS A GIVEN, ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD, IN A CAR OR WITH FEMALES. IT WAS TRUE WHEN I WAS THAT AGE, AND IT PROBABLY WILL BE TRUE WHEN MY GRANDCHILDREN ARE MY AGE.

    M agnificent Grier passes shredded Tennessee, 40-14
    O verhelmed drenched Youngstown, 52-17
    U nable to play North Carolina State because of Hurricane Florence
    N asty defense against Kansas State, 35-6
    T errorize Texas Tech
    A nnihilate Kansas
    I ncinerate Iowa State
    N ail Baylor
    E rectile dysfunction Texas
    E lectrify TCU
    R eam Oklahoma State
    S laughter Oklahoma

    #69977

    Biggest surprise this year is the depth of the DL. We have enough guys that can play without dropping off much talent wise that we can rotate at will and keep it fresh at the end of the game.

    Still not a fan of the 3 man DL. Especially this year when we have problems at CB/S with enough talent to play man. Also we are so thin at LB we are playing some talented S there just to fill the gaps.

    With all due respect to Gibby and what the D has done so far, we haven’t yet played a team with an offensive pulse. Let’s hold our accolades for next week. I hope I can believe. I want to believe. I need to believe. Make me a believer.

    #69979

    Biggest surprise this year is the depth of the DL. We have enough guys that can play without dropping off much talent wise that we can rotate at will and keep it fresh at the end of the game.

    Still not a fan of the 3 man DL. Especially this year when we have problems at CB/S with enough talent to play man. Also we are so thin at LB we are playing some talented S there just to fill the gaps.

    With all due respect to Gibby and what the D has done so far, we haven’t yet played a team with an offensive pulse. Let’s hold our accolades for next week. I hope I can believe. I want to believe. I need to believe. Make me a believer.

    Precisely how I feel. However, I firmly believe we have this one. 😉

    #70026

    Not trying to change anyone’s mind here, as I acknowledge that the 3-man vs. 4-man DL debate rises to the holy war levels of Canon vs. Nikon in photography or Apple vs. Intel\Microsoft in the IT world.

    But, consider what a change to the 4-man does to run fits. It changes what the LBs and spur and bandit do. It’s not just like everything works the same. Teaching that takes time. If WVU does play some 4-man (and I think it will this year) it has to be pretty basic. So there won’t be as many blitzes or stunts, because you don’t want to cause mistakes due to players not knowing what to do.

    Certainly agree WVU hasn’t faced a very good offense yet. TT and other B12 schools will gain yards. But can they score enough to win?

    #70038

    Two different items here Kevin. Can they score enough to win could mean our D has to stop them or their D can’t stop us.

    Our O hasn’t faced a good D yet. And no, KSt isn’t a good D this year.

    We know it will take time to install a full 4 man front package. But with oir woefully thin LB and scrambling to find adequate S & CB, extra pressure from the front 4 means these guys aren’t going to have to cover for that extra time. We could have been burned a few times Sat if KSt had a QB. There were too many times when KSt had well over 5 sec to scan the field when we brought only 3. Anf that’s with the 3 best we’ve had in a long time.

    Just sayin’, a 4 man DL takes pressure off the DB’s.

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