The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 13, 2013

Cook proof of WVU’s defensive evolution

MORGANTOWN — The way West Virginia University senior safety Darwin Cook has it figured, he has evolved into the player he is.

And – considering the name — that’s a fitting theory.

Take this past week.

Cook had himself a monster game against Oklahoma … 11 tackles and his second interception, a rather spectacular leaping interception.

When asked where such an athletic move came from, the man named Darwin put it this way:

“I didn’t know my Daddy gave me so much DNA,” he said. “I didn’t know I could jump like that.”

In other words, it was strictly just more proof of evolution.

It is the same kind of evolution the defense has displayed since it played like a fish out of water a year ago, teams running around, over and through the Mountaineers to score more points and gain more yards than they’d ever given up before.

If the move of making Keith Patterson the defensive coordinator is behind the improvement, you can’t take away from the performance and leadership Cook is putting forth.

It has been a case of growing up and realizing exactly what he possesses.

As for the performance, he says that’s easy to understand, even coming on the heels of a season that was somewhat troubled and had him fighting to keep his job.

“I’m healthy. That’s what makes the difference. Any sport when you feel better you play better,” he said.

The leadership he is showing, the example he is setting, that is something that only evolution could bring on.

“I feel a sense of urgency because these are my last games here. I’ve only got 10 opportunities left. I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I have,” he promised.

And, to date, he’s been doing just that, his exuberance in his play rubbing off on all those around him. Cook is a football player wearing a helmet and a smile, enjoying everything about his senior year.

Take the underdog role WVU played when it went to Oklahoma. He was the Mountaineer who made it clear that “my mamma” was the only person giving WVU a chance as it went in a 21-point underdog but could have won.

And when asked her reaction to WVU losing the game, he smiled and said:

“She was happy for me, individually. But I was beat down.”

It was a beat-down kind of game, physical with Oklahoma running a lot. And seeing teammate Doug Rigg take a blow to the head in a collision with teammate Karl Joseph and lay on the ground unconscious and not moving for a long period of time took a toll.

“I got so emotional, I started crying,” Cook said. “I shed a few tears and then he moved his arm and I started crying some more. Then they ran a third test on him and he didn’t feel a thing, and I just started bawling.

“When I found he was OK, that was satisfying. I felt like we won the game.”

It has been frustrating for this year’s defense, performing probably well enough to be unbeaten in two games but having had the offense score only one touchdown against Oklahoma, that on a 75-yard breakaway run by Dreamius Smith.

Cook, however, is not pointing any fingers.

“It’s just like last year,” he said. “The offense was probably thinking the same thing (about the defense). They had to get 75 points to get a tie. It takes time. I’ve been on both sides, and it works like that,” Cook said.

There can be no argument that the defense has made big strides.

“I told you (before the season),” Cook said. “I’m not saying we’re 2010, but we’re really good.”

The 2010 team started with a shutout of Coastal Carolina and never allowed more than 21 points in any game until North Carolina State scored 23 with Russell Wilson at quarterback in the Champs Sports Bowl.

That team closed out the regular season after giving up 21 points to Marshall in overtime in the season’s second game by allowing Maryland 17, LSU 20, UNLV 10, South Florida 6, Syracuse 19, Connecticut 16 (in overtime), Cincinnati, Louisville and Pitt 10 points followed by Rutgers with 14.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads