WVU’s Rose Sees The Basics As Keys To Oklahoma State Game
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Facing a high-powered offense that gains yardage and scores points with regularity, West Virginia can’t afford to give Oklahoma State extra chances. To that end, the Mountaineer defense must be proficient in tackling the Cowboys to prevent the addition of extra yardage to their totals.
For the most part, this hasn’t been a problem for West Virginia this year, save the aberration against Iowa State where it didn’t do much well at all. The lessons from that game, where missed tackles were the bane of the defense, have apparently been learned. WVU has gotten very good efficiency from its first-arriving defenders, and have swarmed to help clean up on the few occasions when the initial tackler hasn’t completed the play.
“Just play our style of defense, get to the ball, everybody tackle, wrap-up,” detailed defensive lineman Ezekiel Rose, who is part of a swarming defense that has seen 18 players make at least 10 tackles this year. “Play fast, play physical.”
Facing a familiar team and system, Rose sees some new players that are just as effective as departed stars such as quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington. There are also holdovers, like running back Justice Hill, that are providing a bridge and keeping the continuity of the strong, versatile Oklahoma State offense moving.
“They still have great offensive players. I like their running back, number five, he’s very talented,” Rose said. “I like the way he runs, but I feel like the way our running backs run, that helps us get ready for them. ”
Oklahoma State’s attack is predicated on taking advantage of what the defense gives it, and in creating favorable match-ups in space. For Rose, again, one of the old-school fundamentals takes precedence in the attempt to slow the Cowboy offense.
“For me, as a D-Lineman, stopping the run is the best way to stop any offense. We’re just going to go off the game plan that Coach Gibson gives us.”
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With the vast majority of players restricted from interviews, it’s often up to veterans to provide insight on younger players. One of those, defensive lineman Dante Stills, has made steady progress since impressing early and avoiding a redshirt as a true freshman.
“I’ve seen him grow to take more coaching, to listen to the older players more,” said Rose of Stills, who counts three sacks and five tackles for loss among his 14 stops in a backup role. “When he first got here, he would do it, but it would go in one ear and out the other. Now he’s open to suggestions, and he listens. He’s getting way better. I know he is going to be a great player.”