Roberts to use time on offense to help him coach Mountaineer corners
Published: Monday, March 12, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 00:03
In his short time as a football coach, Daron Roberts had only known the defensive side of the ball prior to joining the West Virginia football team as a wide receivers coach last season.
After primarily coaching cornerbacks with the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions of the NFL, the switch to offense came with some time to adjust to life on the other side of the ball.
But, shortly after the Mountaineers' Orange Bowl win over Clemson in January, Roberts got the opportunity to move back to the position he had grown used to before coming to Morgantown.
"Coach Holgorsen came to me at the end of the season and said, ‘It's up to you. If you want to stay (on offense), you have the opportunity to do that. But if you want to go back over to defense, you can,'" Roberts said. "It took me about two weeks to think about it, and I decided that I wanted to go back to defense."
Now that he's back working with defensive players, Roberts is going to use what he learned during his year with Holgorsen and the West Virginia offense to help make improvements with the cornerbacks.
That time getting to listen to the way Holgorsen and the rest of the Mountaineer offensive staff got ready for games could prove to be beneficial in helping him teach his players on defense.
"After coaching on defense for four years, it gave me the opportunity to get a sneak peek at how some offenses game plan and what they take into account," he said.
"Sitting in a room with Coach Holgorsen every week and listening to him talk about exploiting defenses; it was an unbelievable education when it comes to offensive strategy."
Roberts admitted that the switch back to defense took a little bit of time to readjust, but after a week or so it was back to normal.
Now that spring practice has started for West Virginia, Roberts is spending his time looking for players who fit the mindset he's looking for in a cornerback. Although he has a few returning players who saw a lot of time on the field last season, Roberts said every player at the position would be playing with a clean slate this spring and a chance to prove they have what it takes to contribute this season.
"I'm not thinking about the times (they) were beat on a fade route in practice in October. Just show me how you're going to contribute to the team," Roberts said. "To be a corner is a craft because most of the time there's nothing between you and the goal line, so it takes a certain mindset to play corner. I'm trying to find the players who have that mindset."
That mindset Roberts is looking for in his players comes with being aggressive and playing hard the entire game. It's something that is pretty rare to find.
He said, as a defense, they have to find a way to throw off the predictability upon which opposing offenses thrive. That starts with aggressiveness and the willingness to do what it takes to make plays.
"I don't care if it's the NFL or college or even Pop Warner, it takes a certain type of player who's able to cover a guy in space when he doesn't know what route he's running," Roberts said. "It takes a certain type of player who is able to push himself until he's just exhausted, because that's what's going to happen against some teams that might have 90 offensive snaps. When it's snap 85, that's when your manhood is tested – especially with corners because you're running every play.
"My job is to find those players, with that mindset, and make sure they play."