WVSports - West Virginia football defense playing with confidence
{{ timeAgo('2020-10-18 12:45:00 -0500') }} football Edit

West Virginia football defense playing with confidence

The West Virginia Mountaineers defense impressed against Kansas.
The West Virginia Mountaineers defense impressed against Kansas.

The West Virginia defense surrendered ten points and 63 yards on the first two Kansas drives.

But that would be it for scoring as the Mountaineers didn’t allow a single point on the remaining 13 Jayhawks possessions and only 94 total yards. The 157 total yards were the fewest allowed since the program held Towson to only 122 in 2014 and the fewest against an FBS opponent since holding Connecticut to 129 during the 2005 season.

Regardless of the opponent, that’s an impressive statistic in its own right.

It wasn’t just yards either, as the Mountaineers held the Jayhawks to 2-13 on third down, recorded 5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Kansas finished the game averaging a total of 2.9 yards per play.

Yes, the Jayhawks certainly helped matters by not being able to establish the line of scrimmage in the run game and only completing one pass over 10+ yards after the 43-yard score on the second possession of the game. But it still was an impressive performance regardless of the opponent and one that can be used as a springboard in the confidence department moving forward.

Especially when you consider that the defensive unit had only allowed 19.8 points and 268 yards per game coming into the matchup, totals that put the unit among the nation’s best. Those are now sitting at 18.8 points and 240.2 yards per contest with some of that scoring against them coming on a kick return against Kansas and a fumble return for a touchdown against Oklahoma State.

The yardage total is good for first nationally for the time being.

“Guys are flying around. It’s really about effort and about physicality,” head coach Neal Brown said. “We’re flying; we’re getting multiple hats to the ball. A lot of confidence.”

The defense is displaying the ability to get off blocks and is playing with a physical element that hasn’t been matched in recent years. The coaches are taking advantage of well-designed four and five man pressures to create havoc for opposing defenses.

It starts up front and the Mountaineers have been getting an impressive effort all-around by winning one-on-ones and generating pressure from the collective of Darius Stills, Dante Stills, Jeffery Pooler and true freshman Akheem Mesidor as well as others. The play of the second and third levels also has been impressive with graduate transfer Tony Fields leading the team with 35 tackles.

They were especially impressive on first down holding Kansas to an average of only 1.1 yards per play 21 first downs including holding the Jayhawks to 16 yards on 14 attempts.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence and they’re playing extremely hard and when you do that and bring that physical element too you’ll have a lot of success,” Brown said.

West Virginia is continuing to build on an impressive start to the year which is giving the defense even more confidence moving forward. And even with some of the struggles, offensively the Mountaineers defensive unit is keeping them in the game.

That is a scary thought for opposing Big 12 offenses.

“We definitely are. Our coaches believe in us and we believe in each other so we just go out there and play for each other,” linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said.

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