Even without causing a turnover in Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game, the first team defense looked very solid overall.
Whether that is due to experience or the addition of Tom Bradley, the defense looked aggressive and got to the ball in a fast manner. WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said he was impressed with what he saw.
“First team defense played excellent, so I started to take a lot of those guys out, and once we started taking those guys out, offensively, we moved the ball a little bit, which as a head coach you want to see,” Holgorsen said.
Redshirt junior Isaiah Bruce said the defense did some good things, although there is still room for improvement. He did say, however, the offense won that day because the defense was unable to create turnovers, which allowed the offense to score in a consistent fashion after the first quarter.
Now, while the defense improved significantly in the 2013-14 season, the 2014-15 season could be one that really takes the next step and becomes one of the better defenses in the nation.
While I became impressed with the offense over the course of the game, with the exception of the first quarter, I think the first-team defense really implemented its stamp as a proven and experienced group Saturday.
WVU’s secondary will be challenged with the talent in the Big 12 Conference, but as coaches have mentioned, it’s a group with talent and experience across the roster.
In terms of having a good balance on all three sides of the ball, I don’t think the defense should be a problem in 2014. Even with the offense getting a lot of points and making some drive-saving plays, the defense came out of the game knowing what it’s capable of.
That is a large part of the purpose of the Gold-Blue Spring Game. Guys remained healthy and as Holgorsen alluded to, the defense made an impact right away.
For Mountaineer fans, I think there has to be too much concern over this defensive group. You’ll have instant playmakers returning in Karl Joseph, Jared Barber and Bruce, while guys like Daryl Worley and Ricky Rumph are going to try to continue to become threats on the defensive side of the ball.
I like the direction of the defense. Experience, along with a talented recruiting class, should give West Virginia a chance to compete in league play and attempt to make it back to a bowl game.
With new defensive schemes and strong leadership, West Virginia could be up for the challenge of the daunting 2014-15 schedule and ultimately returning to relevance.
If the spring game was any indication, WVU’s defense could be one of the nation’s best this fall.