The Times West Virginian

Sports

March 30, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Bradley asks D-linemen to be ‘muckers and grinders’

MORGANTOWN — Throw away all those conceptions that have festered in your mind from defenses past, the power play John Thornton used to bring to defensive tackle at West Virginia University, the amazing pass rush that Gary Stills or Canute Curtis brought from the end.

These were players who would dominate games, bringing fame and fortune to themselves.

They are also antiques in today’s game.

In the defense that West Virginia is running today, its own brand of a 3-3-5, the defensive line as being coached by Tom Bradley is meant to be almost invisible. Their job is not to dominate the game, simply the offensive linemen.

It isn’t that he doesn’t want them to make plays. He plans on making them capable of doing just that. It’s just that isn’t their main responsibility.

“I want them to be agile. I want them to be players, but in this defense, we want them to be unselfish. I tease them, tell them you guys got to be the muckers and grinders,” Bradley said.

See, the game has changed. Quarterbacks now get the ball, throw the ball.

It’s done often in the blink of an eye. They want to get the ball in space to a playmaker, and the linemen’s job is to get out there and stop the linebackers from making plays in space.

This means the defensive linemen’s job is not to stop the running backs and the quarterbacks but, instead, to stop the offensive linemen, and you get very little credit for that.

“Absolutely,” said Kyle Rose, a junior from Centerville, Ohio, who can and will play anywhere along the defensive line. “It’s all in the overall defensive scheme. It’s all for the defense, not for individual success. It’s team over everything.

“In this defense you may not make as many plays as you would in the three technique we were in last year. You are going to be holding your blocker back and letting linebackers scrape in and out. That’s all in having a good defense. You need three unselfish guys.

“I don’t think you have any problem with that here. Our guys know their role and are definitely going to do a good job filling that role.”

“Playing the nose, you can’t be selfish,” added Christian Brown, a 304-pound sophomore nose tackle out of Fort Myers, Fla. “If you are, you let the whole team down. Being selfish is trying to do your own thing, not worrying about anyone else just worrying about yourself.”

Brown admitted that it would be possible to have a good season without having a sack, because sacks are going to come mostly through a variety of blitzes from linebackers and safeties and corners.

“I just have to control the line of scrimmage,” Brown said.

All of this, of course, is music to Bradley’s ears.

“I like they are buying into what we’re doing. We’re hustling to the ball. If you hustle, good things will happen. They’re going to blow assignments. They’ll go the wrong way. We’re not going to play the perfect game. But if you do it at

100 percent, good things happen. Every day you come out to practice, you can have effort,” he said.

Certainly, changes had to be made on defense for WVU’s defense has been unacceptably bad over the past couple of seasons. They are changing coordinators, coaches, players and philosophies, actually going back to the defensive philosophy that worked when head coach Dana Holgorsen came on the scene and inherited this 3-3-5.

“We’re going back to the 3-3-5 we ran my freshman year with Kirlav (veteran WVU defensive line coach Bill Kirelavich) and (former defensive coordinator Jeff) Casteel and all those guys. Coach Bradley knows this defense. He’s coached many a defense,” Rose said.

The difference on the defensive line is to hold your own.

“We aren’t more up the field than we were last year. We’re more keying on blocks. You just got to read your keys, watch the ball and take the coaching.”

And this year there seems to be, as there is at all the other defensive positions, more depth than there was a year ago.

“We have a bunch of guys who are going to be strong for us,” Rose said. “Christian Brown and Darrien Howard at the nose, Eric Kinsey, myself, Dontrill Hyman Jon Lewis are all strong. Our first team and second team are interchangeable. With the defensive line you need a lot of depth. You can’t ask for too much, but right now we are pretty solid.

“I feel we could throw in anybody and not have a drop-off in performance. With me, I’m bigger. I feel stronger. I don’t know about faster, but I feel quick off the ball.”

Rose admits, though, that for the 3-3-5 to work the key is to have a dominant nose.

“Nose is key,” he said. “That’s why we’re lucky to have Christian. He’s a big, strong, strapping young man. He’s pretty strong in the weight room. He’s pretty quick. He fills that role pretty well.

“In this defense, the nose guy has to be a beast, kind of like Chris Neild, and I think we have a guy like that in Christian Brown. Neild made that defense go. That’s why he’s playing in the pros.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Pirates’ gaffe on bases proves costly

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle, what we watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.
    A timely, heads-up glance by reliever Jean Machi helped San Francisco take advantage of a gaffe on the bases by Pittsburgh, and the Giants tagged out of two runners who wandered away on the same play grab momentum and end a six-game losing streak.

    July 31, 2014

  • Speedy Shazier making quick impression

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end. Others focused on his blazing speed and saw a safety.
    Not Shazier.

    July 31, 2014

  • Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tourney opener

    Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.

    July 30, 2014

  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.
    The Pete Dye course, ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and No. 9 on Golfweek’s ranking of Best Modern Courses, will host 160 of the best junior golfers from 40 states during the 72-hole stroke play event.

    July 30, 2014

  • Scott sees swift title contention for Lakers

    Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
    “This organization is all about championships, period,” Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”

    July 30, 2014

  • Opinion: People running NCAA may not be bumbling idiots

    Two down, one big one to go.
    And with it a growing realization that maybe the people running the NCAA aren’t the bumbling idiots everyone has been making them out to be.
    The NCAA’s agreement Tuesday to create a $70 million fund to diagnose concussions and brain injuries does more than just give some former and current athletes a bit of peace of mind — if no real money. It also extricates the organization from another serious threat to its existence, one that could have potentially bankrupted it if everyone who ever suffered a concussion playing college sports were somehow able to cash in.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers Camp Footbal_time2.jpg Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.
    Sometimes, one would appear. Sometimes it wouldn’t, mainly because whatever sliver of daylight existed had already been swallowed by darkness while Bell was still trying to read the blocks in front of him.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dungy0725 (1).jpg Rice, Dungy sideshows stain NFL

    The National Football League guards its reputation as aggressively as lineman are paid to protect a quarterback.
    So, as training camp opens around the country, how odd is it to see Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 32-team NFL empire battling bad headlines and stinging criticism from all quarters?
    Anyone want to talk to the new quarterback for his early assessment of playing with the best and biggest players in the land? That would be business as usual. Nothing has been routine about the early days of camp this season.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG DeVaul wraps up final season as Post 17’s leader

    If you were to ask players on Fairmont American Legion Post 17’s roster who they looked up to, you’d find a familiar pattern.
    Sure, you may get some Andrew McCutchens or some Derek Jeters as replies. But if you want to find out the real answer, just look into the dugout.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings