football Edit

Mixing and matching critical on West Virginia defensive front

The West Virginia Mountaineers football team have options on the defensive line.
The West Virginia Mountaineers football team have options on the defensive line.

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West Virginia defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley has prioritized versatility up front.

While some might target pure size, Lesley wants to find a mix of that along with length and athleticism in order to create mismatches for opposing offensive lines.

“That length matters a lot more than weight,” he said.

He points to redshirt sophomore Sean Martin as an example of this considering how his size and skill set lends itself to allowing the defensive lineman to do a lot more than simply occupy space. Martin has the power to hold at the point of contact, but the flexibility to move across the line and disrupt.

“Quick game throws from shorter quarterbacks, create separation from offensive linemen and has an advantage in the screen game because he can separate and see,” he said.

Martin can move all across the front on the edges, while the same can be said for Jordan Jefferson at the interior positions. That ability to move the pieces around up front gives the overall unit a lot of flexibility as it can create problems for offenses by now pigeonholing themselves into one certain look.

“Find that variety of guys and body types so you can do some different things,” Lesley said.

Finding options up front that can do a little bit of everything is critical in the pursuit of players on the recruiting trail and after a few seasons Lesley believes the defense is to the point where it’s where he wants it to be in that regard. That’s especially true up front.

For example, once Akheem Mesidor elected to enter the transfer portal it shifted the focus to Jordan Jefferson at nose guard and he plays a different style that embraces getting double teamed instead of the finesse of his predecessor.

But just having that ability to adjust on the fly is critical.

“Definitely changes some things but we’re going to adjust the defense to the strengths we have,” defensive line coach AJ Jackson said.

There are a bunch of different body types up front and it’s something that the Mountaineers have recruited to over the past few years.

But as long as it leads to results, nobody is going to care how it gets done in the end with how the Mountaineers utilize the positions.

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