Bruce, Mountaineers turn focus to Maryland
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 07:09
Though many have categorized the steady play and solid contributions from redshirt freshman linebacker Isaiah Bruce as a surprise, there are some people who were expecting it.
Isaiah Bruce is one of those people.
"I’m not really surprised because this is what I was training for and expecting," he said.
"I’ve been expecting to do well, and I’ve done my job so far, so I just have to keep it up and do what I can to help this team win."
The Jacksonville, Fla., native appeared on Mountaineer fans’ radar screens after an impressive 16-tackle performance in week one against Marshall. Bruce said although the defense is playing well, there are still areas in which it needs to improve.
"Last game, I think we could have had about 10 sacks," he said. "We got to the quarterback, but he was a great scrambler. Regardless, we should have finished with a majority of those and our sack (total) should have been a lot higher."
Bruce thinks the defense needs to improve what he believes is its primary focus – force turnovers.
"We definitely are trying to be a top team in turnovers," he said. "We’re trying to average three a game. We’re a little behind right now; we’re shooting for five (against Maryland).
I think we’ll do pretty well with that because we’re going to be attacking the ball."
Behind center for the Terrapins is true freshman Perry Hills, who became the team’s starting quarterback after redshirt junior C.J. Brown suffered a torn ACL.
Despite Hills’ youthfulness, Bruce expects him to compete, but that doesn’t mean the Mountaineers won’t be able to rattle him in the process.
"They see (Hills) as their starting quarterback, so he must be really good at what he does," he said.
"As long as we get pressure on him and make him react much quicker than he’s expected to, then I think the game should work out very well."
The majority of attention West Virginia has received has been a result of its offense – something Bruce hopes the defense can change.
"We haven’t lived up to our standards, so I guess we can’t really ask for more (attention) than we have shown," he said.
"We should have more turnovers – our goal is three a game, and we haven’t really reached those standards yet, so we can’t really expect to just have so much credit and not doing what we, ourselves, put first."
With a diverse slate of opponents in the non-conference portion of the schedule, Bruce said the defense is getting a lot of looks at different styles of play, something that will benefit the team as it moves forward.
"(The schedule) prepares us for a lot of different things," he said.
"The last quarterback, he was a scrambler. He was not easy to tackle. It definitely helped us control our feet and try and get to the ball (better)."
Heading into Saturday’s game, Bruce said the defense will try to
improve with what it learned during the James Madison game – play excited and play hard.
"In the last game, (James Madison) had a couple of plays where they got into the red zone, (and) we had our backs to the wall. And then once we get those stops and got the turnover on fourth down, everybody was just excited," he said.
"We just continued to play better after that. I think we just have to continue to play excited and keep running to the ball."