Getting A Turnover Final Boost For WVU’s Bailey?
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia cornerback Hakeem Bailey has all of the tools to succeed. Only confidence, which has admittedly wavered at times, has kept him from playing at his highest potential. It’s possible, though, that his first interception in a Mountaineer uniform will put him over the top.
“It was a great call by Coach Gibby and everything worked out perfect. I was just happy to get my first one in my career here,” Bailey said, while adding that confidence in the secondary as a whole is at an all-time high. “My instincts just took over. I didn’t really think that it was my first one, it just happened, and I’m glad. That was good for me.”
Bailey has played well for WVU so far this year. He is tied with fellow cornerback Josh Norwood for sixth in tackles with 18; the duo leads all WVU corners in that stat. He also has 1.5 tackles for loss, a pass break-up, and now that pick.
The boost couldn’t come at a better time for Bailey and the WVU secondary, which again shuffled some last week. Derrek Pitts, who had been moved to cornerback for the start of the season, filled in for the injured Toyous Avery at bandit against Kansas. Pitts’ showing there was good enough that defensive coordinator Tony Gibson plans to use him in a rotations with Avery in the future, although he will be able to move back to corner if need be. For the short term, though, that leaves three corners – Bailey, Norwood and Keith Washington – to handle the vast majority of the load.
That’s fine with Bailey, who is eager to add to his theft total.
“I was ready for my next one in the same game,” he said with a big smile as he discussed the interception that negated a Kansas scoring effort. “I liked it. It boosted my confidence even more. We’ll still keep rotating. We all are getting a lot of snaps in each game, so that’s good.”
He’ll put that to use against an Iowa State team that features a pair of big, productive targets at wideout. Hakeem Butler (6-6) and Matthew Eaton (6-4) will give expected starter Brock Purdy the sort of advantage that WVU’s Will Grier has with David Sills — the ability to throw the ball in one-on-one situations with the expectation the taller man will win out.
Bailey, who is generously listed at 6-feet even on the WVU roster, knows the avenue he has to follow to offset that differential.
“I just have to keep watching film and see what weaknesses they have and take advantage of that. It’s going to be a really good match-up this weekend. I look forward to it.”