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'Where I thought we’d be'

MORGANTOWN - The real tests, of course, remain two weeks in the future and then beyond. But as far as the progress of West Virginia's redesigned and reconstituted defense is concerned, Joe DeForest seems like a pretty happy guy after two-plus weeks of fall camp.

The Mountaineers concluded the pre-classes portion of their preseason Saturday and, at least in the eyes of the team's new defensive coordinator, a few questions about the biggest area of concern for the team - that reworked defense - have been answered.

"No question, I'm satisfied,'' DeForest said. "We're exactly where I thought we would be.''

For the next two weeks, the Mountaineers will put the finishing touches on the preseason and then begin working toward the Sept. 1 opener against Marshall. The offense doesn't seem to be much of an issue. Even with quarterback Geno Smith away for the weekend because of the death of his grandmother, that offense is of little concern.

The defense began August drills not only looking for freshmen who could step in and contribute, but continuing to install the schemes first presented to the team in the spring.

DeForest said he likes the way all of it has gone.

"There have been some players that have risen to the top,'' he said. "We have so much healthy competition. The guys are fighting for playing time. That's something that we talked about in the spring. All of the jobs are open and they're fighting their tails off. Overall, we got most of the package in and we're in good shape.''

The biggest task remaining perhaps is narrowing down just who will play. For the most part, the top 11 to 15 are pretty clear-cut.

Along the front of the 3-4 scheme will be Shaq Rowell at nose guard, Will Clarke at end and Jorge Wright at tackle. The defense can easily morph into a four-man front with the buck linebacker stepping in as a defensive end with Clarke and Rowell and Wright as the tackles.

That buck linebacker is likely to be Tyler Anderson. The two inside linebackers will come from a group that includes Doug Rigg, Jared Barber, Isaiah Bruce, Shaq Petteway and Jewone Snow. The other outside linebacker will be Terence Garvin.

In the secondary, Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins are the corners and freshman Karl Joseph one of the safeties. The other safety should be Darwin Cook, but freshman K.J. Dillon has stepped in while Cook has been injured.

The task now is to identify more reliable depth, particularly up front and at the corners.

As for the scheme itself, that seems to have been learned well.

"The defense has been installed for a whole spring and two weeks for camp. They've grasped it,'' DeForest said. "The guys that make mistakes will weed themselves out. We're working with the guys that understand what to do. We're also looking at the guys who want to play hard. We have a starting 11 and about five guys we can trust.''

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

 


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