What You Need To Know About The West Virginia Defense
– Defense is relative when playing in the Big 12. It wasn’t an awful year for the defense, but it struggled against the run and way involved in a whole slew of shootouts, giving up 446 yards and 32 points per game. Six starters return, and even with some key holes to fill, the D will be better.
Leading tackler Al-Rasheed Benton is done from the linebacking corps, but David Long Jr. is a special defender who’s a killer on the weakside as long as he’s healthy. He has to get past a shoulder injury, but he’ll be ready.
Dylan Tonkery made 44 tackles last season, and now he’ll take over for Benton in the middle, and now safety-sized Charlie Benton will move into Tonkery’s spot on the strongside.
– The line loses two of its three starters, but it’ll be terrific with a little bit of time. DE Adam Shuler is transferring, but Ezekiel Rose and Dante Stills are more than good enough to fill in the gap on one side, and Reese Donohue is back on the other.
Stills could work at tackle if needed, but with undersized starter Lamonte McDougle transferring, it’ll be up to USC transfer Kenny Bigelow and Clemson grad transfer Jabril Robinson to help clog up the nose. This won’t be a big line, but even with the losses, there will be a good rotation.
– The secondary situation is about to grow into a massive plus. Derrek Pitts is about to become an all-star on the outside – if he doesn’t lock down a safety job – with UCLA transfer Denzel Fisher and Hakeem Bailey good options to find time at corner.
Kenny Robinson is going to be one of the team’s biggest tacklers at free safety, but it’s the return of Dravon Askew-Henry at the Spur position that makes the pass D potentially fantastic. Well past the torn ACL suffered a few years ago, he needs to get back to his all-star skills.
Biggest Key To The West Virginia Defense
The run defense needs to stiffen up. There were way too many problems on the defensive front holding up. There’s enough talent and experience in place to do more, but after giving up over 300 yards to Oklahoma and, inexplicably, to Kansas, it’s not okay to allow close to five yards per carry again. WVU went 1-4 when allowing 200 yards or more – the D line will be in the spotlight in fall camp.