Gibson: Time To Turn The Dawgs Loose

Gibson Ready To “Wind Them Up And Let Them Play”

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It’s time to turn’em loose.

That’s the maxim of the day for West Virginia’s defense as the Mountaineers enter the first day of contact in full pads Thursday. No complexity, no thinking, no paralysis by analysis. Just pure, intuitive football

“We will scale back a little bit and turn them loose and let them play,” coordinator Tony Gibson said. “We won’t throw a bunch of different fronts or coverages or blitzes. We are going to stay pretty simple and wind them up and let them play.”

Gibson says the staff can learn more about a player’s instincts in that manner. It also allows coaches to see “who will bite and who won’t.” That’s a reference to WVU’s defense calling themselves the Dawgs, a mantra first adopted by Gibson after his hometown high school in Van, W.Va., nicknamed the Bulldogs. It’s stuck, and in this case the bite refers to players who are going to stick their nose in the play and hit, and those who won’t.

That’s a question mark for a unit trying to both replace eight starters and create depth, with most reserve positions being filled by players who have seen little time. The full scale scrimmage work over the next two days is back to basics football. It might not necessarily challenge the intellect – that comes later as Gibson adds blitz packages, coverage schemes and more – but it’ll challenge your manhood.

“That’s the biggest thing right now,” Gibson said. “We have a lot of guys you really don’t know about. We have to turn them loose and see how they react.”

West Virginia also isn’t switching players between multiple positions right now. Gibson wants to see who will exert the effort, play with an edge and display the kind of ingrained visceral football IQ desired.

“Right now we are focusing on on everybody doing their job and playing their position,” he said. “Now today, when we put the shoulder pads and pants on them and can go live and do some things, I think that will get our guys going again. Everybody knows how camp goes. Everybody is anxious at first and then we are tired of hitting each other and tired of tackling the same people and it wears on you. But everybody in the country is doing it, so we need to do it and we need to continue to get better.”