Mountaineers Find Depth On Defensive Line
WVU’s defensive line prides itself on its depth and the Mountaineers had a chance to get players beneficial reps against Delaware State .
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Coming into the football season, their was a lot of debate about how good West Virginia’s defensive line really was. The depth of the unit was what appeared to stick out and in the Mountaineers’ 59-16 win over Delaware State, everyone got a real chance to see that depth first hand.
Through the first two games, the defensive line wasn’t the weakest spot on the defense. However, they have gotten out of position several times and missed tackles, resulting in long runs.
Against the Hornets, the line performed better and demonstrated its depth.
“It was good to see (Xavier) Pegues make a few plays,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “I thought Reese (Donahue) played strong in there. I thought Jon Lewis, (Jalen) Harvey, I thought all of those guys held their gaps, which they should of.”
Even though the opponent wasn’t the caliber of most of the Big 12 teams that WVU will face this season, it gave the young squad a lot of valuable experience.
“We’ve played a lot of bodies,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’ve played 10 bodies there. This is a good game to be able to evaluate how they played. We’ve had guys stand out. I think we got a better idea of who does what well.”
While it gave the coaches a better idea of who is suited for what, the players were excited to show the fans what they were capable of.
“It was definitely fun watching those guys get in, get to show off their talents and stuff like that,” Xavier Preston said. “We all knew that they could do it but it’s fun to see them get out there and do it in front of the stadium.”
One player that had a standout game was Ezekiel Rose. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound junior finished the afternoon with two tackles, which included an 11-yard sack.
Rose also exemplified his athletic ability with an impressive kickoff return
“Honestly, it just felt like another game to me,” he said. “I felt like I had to go out there and play hard. I knew guys in front of me would get a lot of reps and I knew if they did real well that I would get a lot of reps so I just base it off their performance.”
Rose and his teammates just took the opportunity to prepare for conference action.
“We approached it as an opportunity to get better,” he said. “We played a good offense so we approached it with the mindset of working our techniques, getting better at certain things, and we will keep moving forward.”
And having 10 players that have the ability to go on the field and get the job done will benefit the Mountaineers, especially during the brutal stretch that lies ahead.
“It feels amazing actually, keep your legs fresh,” Rose said. “Everybody knows what to do when we go in the game so there’s no big deal who’s in the game and who’s not in the game. We just keep the rotation going as best as coach (Bruce) Tall puts us in. We trust each other.”
Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA Today Sports