The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

October 20, 2011

WVU’s defense making a name for itself

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s offense has received so much attention that defensive end Bruce Irvin recalls being asked about it by fans.

Now Irvin can brag about what his side of the ball has been doing.

With the help of his team-leading seven tackles for loss, the defense, which lost seven starters from a year ago, is beginning to find its identity to accompany Geno Smith and the high-scoring offense.

Although no one has stopped Irvin lately to talk about his unit, he says flying below the radar is what the Mountaineer defense thrives on.

“That’s how we like it,” said Irvin, a senior. “Just got to go out there, do our job. Clock in and clock out.”

Irvin and his teammates are starting to pile up the sacks and the defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in seven quarters. The streak would have been longer had Bowling Green’s Jerry Gates not returned a kickoff 77 yards to put the defense in an early hole three weeks ago.

Through six games this year, four opponents have been held to less than 300 total yards and West Virginia (5-1, 1-0 Big East) now ranks 18th nationally in total defense.

Even when 11th-ranked West Virginia looked its worst, during a 47-21 loss Sept. 24 to No. 1 LSU, the defense allowed only 366 yards despite being saddled time and time again with a short field due to the Tigers’ dominance on special teams.

Offensive-minded coach Dana Holgorsen singled out the defense for its dominant performance in a 43-16 win over Connecticut two weeks ago. The defense registered five sacks — one for a safety — and allowed 97 yards after halftime. UConn’s only touchdown came on an interception return.

“I certainly agree they played their best game and continue to mesh together as a group,” Holgorsen said.

While the recent defensive success can be attributed to more cohesion as the season progresses, senior cornerback Keith Tandy is adamant that the defense’s personality is all about speed. It allows the secondary to play more aggressively, knowing there will be a swarm to the ball.

“The main thing we’re trying to do is have everyone flying around when we we’re on defense,” Tandy said. “We’re a smaller defense than we were last year but we’ve got more speed.”

Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said he hopes the defense will continue to improve on Friday night at Syracuse (4-2, 0-1).

“We’ve made some strides the last couple weeks,” Casteel said. “We’ve been trying to play a complete game.”

West Virginia will play four of its final six regular-season games on the road. Instead of feeding off a noisy home crowd, Tandy said the defense will be dedicated to silencing opponents’ fans.

“It’s actually a better feeling when you can quiet the other team’s crowd,” Tandy said.

West Virginia’s only road test so far was Sept. 17 when the defense nearly squandered a 24-point lead in the second half against Maryland.

The defense’s task in the second half of the season will be mighty. The last time West Virginia went unbeaten on the road in the regular season was 2005, when it won the Big East title and went to the Sugar Bowl.

“We want to be remembered for winning games,” Casteel said. “That’s the bottom line.”

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    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

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    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

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos