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COLUMN: WVU’s cross protection has proven no enchancment by means of 2 video games

There was quite a lot of discuss this offseason about West Virginia’s protection specializing in fundamentals and physicality.

The Mountaineers’ protection could also be extra basically sound and could also be extra bodily than a yr in the past, however they haven’t performed significantly better by means of the primary two video games of 2023, particularly in cross protection.

A poor efficiency within the season opener towards Penn State was excusable. The Nittany Lions are a top-10 crew within the nation with eyes on making the Faculty Soccer Playoff.

A second disappointing outing, this time towards FCS Duquesne, raises issues to a complete new degree.

“To say I’m pissed off with that may be an understatement,” WVU coach Neal Brown mentioned Saturday night time.

For the second week in a row, opposing broad receivers had little or no hassle getting open towards West Virginia’s secondary. Duquesne had six receptions over 15 yards, together with the primary rating of the sport through which Duquesne receiver DJ Powell merely ran previous West Virginia’s defenders for a 38-yard landing.

“It’s regarding,” Brown mentioned. “A few of it’s a little little bit of when it’s time to play, we’ve acquired to make performs. We had guys falling down within the first quarter. Simply falling down.”

It’s clear simply from the field rating that WVU’s secondary is severely lagging behind the entrance seven. The Dukes solely ran for 3 yards on Saturday however had been capable of throw for 231.

These are the identical issues the Mountaineers had a season in the past when their protection completed second-to-last within the Huge 12 in cross protection (262.3 yards per recreation) and allowed greater than 300 passing yards 5 instances. The Mountaineers had been 1-4 in these video games.

WVU’s try to repair its secondary got here through the switch portal, the place the Mountaineers introduced in corners Montre Miller (Kent State) and Beanie Bishop (Minnesota) and safeties Keyshawn Cobb (Buffalo) and Anthony Wilson (Georgia Southern). 

“Our hope was we introduced in some veterans and we had been going to repair that and, fairly frankly, we haven’t carried out that by means of two video games,” Brown mentioned. “We’ve acquired to return to the drafting board. We’ve acquired to get these issues corrected.”

Following the 5-7 2022 marketing campaign, Brown didn’t make any employees modifications on the defensive aspect of the ball, selecting to maintain defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley, co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach ShaDon Brown and safeties coach Dontae Wright.

The choice was a present of loyalty from Brown however will proceed to look questionable so long as the secondary’s struggles proceed.

WVU performs its remaining nonconference recreation of the season subsequent week internet hosting rival Pitt within the Yard Brawl. The Panthers struggled mightily throwing the ball throughout their 27-21 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday. Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec accomplished simply 10 of 32 passes for 179 yards.

After that, the Mountaineers being Huge 12 play the place an underperforming secondary might trigger quite a lot of issues for the second yr in a row.

“Our receiver play and bettering within the secondary are going to be completely vital to the success we’ll have transferring ahead,” Brown mentioned. “We’ve simply acquired to play higher.”