Time To Give WVU’s David Long His Due
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dana Holgorsen thinks his West Virginia linebacker David Long is the best linebacker in the country and he’s perplexed that the Big 12 doesn’t think he is the best linebacker in the Big 12.
On his radio show Monday night Holgorsen began pushing Long for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year when he proclaimed:
“I think he’s the best linebacker in the country. I said it before the season. I stand by it.”
And he isn’t sure he shouldn’t be drawing national attention for his heroics on what is an underrated Mountaineer defense.
“This is insane that he’s not getting the due nationally,” Holgorsen said on the radio. “The good news is we’re going against two of the top offenses nationally the next couple weeks. This Saturday is a big ABC game. He’ll have some eyes on him.”
Holgorsen did not back off that stand during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, especially after the game he played against TCU this past week.
“I don’t know how he can not be Big 12 Player of the Week,” he said. “If it sounds like I’m calling out the Big 12, yeah I am,” Holgorsen said. “He does the same thing every week. He makes every play. He affects every play. I guarantee the offense knows where he is every play.”
Instead, the Big 12 found two players to honor over him, naming co-Defensive Players of the Week in Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen and Texas defensive back Davante Davis.
Davis stymied a pair of Texas Tech drives in the red zone with an interception at the goal line and a forced fumble and fumble recovery to prevent a Red Raider score. Davis totaled five tackles and two TFLs in the win.
Dineen had nine tackles for Kansas, 2.5 of them for a loss.
Long had six tackles, four for a loss, three sacks, andthree passes broken up. In other words, he was everywhere, as he usually is.
“He’s smart, he has experience, he’s physical, he’s tough, he’s really hard to block,” Holgorsen said. “I made that comment to everybody when he was on scout team four years ago. He’s hard to block; his pad level in unreal, he runs underneath blocks or around blocks or through blocks or gets off blocks.”
Tony Gibson, the defensive coordinator, spotted Long’s talent almost he got on the field, early on stating that he believed he would be “the best defensive player I’ve coached here before he’s through.”
He’s living up to that prediction.
“I have not been around a lot of guys like him,” Gibson said. “I coached Grant Wiley here. He was the same kind of player, a little bigger. All I know is i wish I could tell you it was my coaching, but it’s not. The best coaching advice I can give him is go make a play.”
Long’s style is unique.
“The thing that amazes me about him is when you break down film the way he manuevers and gets skinny to go between blockers,” Gibson said.
It’s almost as if Long is inventing a new way to play linebacker.
“He’s physical, he’s downhill. I never seen a linebacker squeeze through like that to make plays,” said senior safety Dravon Askew-Henry, Long’s roommate.
Long says he doesn’t study other linebackers, so it’s very likely that he is an original in the way he has developed his game.
“If I find someone I’m like I’ll let you know,” he joked.
But the fact of the matter is he is having a bang-up year. He leads the Mountaineer in tackles with 84, a whopping 17.5 of them for losses along with eight sacks and four passes broken up.
He is second in the nation and first among Power 5 school players in tackles for a loss.
And when you mention to him that Holgorsen is pumping him up and says that he’s been overlooked nationally, he wants to be humble, but he admits it bothers him.
“Yeah, I see it. I don’t complain much. I gotta keep playing. Someone is going to see it. Whatever comes with it, comes with it,” he said.
As Holgorsen said, there’s two straight national TV games against great offensive teams coming up, so he can make a name for himself right here.