MORGANTOWN — o o o o o o
Question No. 2: Will a rebuilt and redesigned defense be able to put the brakes on the great offenses West Virginia will face during the season?
Answer: This is the question of the century. Good defenses don’t normally do much to stop Big 12 attacks, and no one knows just how good Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson’s newly designed 3-4 defense will be.
WVU has been spitting out NFL defenders with regularity in recent years, but now they have a reshaped defense with a lot of new faces.
The 3-4 comes with more of a gambling philosophy, with the goal being to create turnovers.
That will require pressure on the passer, and two of the best pass rushers in WVU history — first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller — are gone. That makes Will Clarke the man who has to do it up right.
“We should have great competition on the defensive end,” said Jorge Wright, who is scheduled to play at the nose.
Cornerback Pat Miller and Broderick Jenkins also are on the spot.
“As long as the cornerbacks are playing right, the defense will go just perfect,” Miller said.
o o o o o o
Question No. 3: Is the Mountaineer offensive line good enough to hold up against the kind of pressure it will face in the Big 12, especially when it goes up against Texas on the road?
Answer: This is shaping up as one of the best offensive lines the Mountaineers have put together.
It’s built around a true Rimington Award candidate in center Joey Madsen, a three-year starter at the position. The only major award winner WVU has ever produced is center Dan Mozes in 2006.
Madsen sported a Mohawk, and at least one Big 12 writer dubbed him the best quote at media day.
Make no doubt, he’s geared up for his final season.
“Every game will be a bowl game for me,” he said.
That’s the kind of stuff great seasons are made of, and Madsen isn’t the only Mountaineer to feel that way.
Another senior on the O-line, right guard Jeff Braun, also has that feeling, and had he gone to media day he would have given Madsen a run for best quote. He has moved from left guard, where he was forced to play last year due to an injury to Josh Jenkins, to right guard.
Braun says they are looking to add toughness to the mix this season.
“One thing we’ve tried to do is get a nastiness about us,’’ Braun said. “We want to be the most physical group we can be and put people on the ground. I think we’ve been doing that.”
Jenkins comes back to his left guard spot, eager to prove himself worthy of the NFL in his final year, while equally eager to prove himself is first-year starter Quinton Spain, a mountain of a man at right tackle.
Pat Eger returns at right tackle after having proven himself last year when he surprised everyone by winning the job.