MORGANTOWN - Today, we're going to play a little game.
We'll call it Word Up.
And the word of the day is "consistency." You can play along by counting how many times West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel used the word or a form of it in a Tuesday interview. See how many you can find.
As for Casteel, he's simply trying to find it.
As most WVU fans know, the Mountaineer defense lost seven starters from last season. Only Terence Garvin, Najee Goode, Julian Miller and Keith Tandy return. Those same fans hope experienced backups returning from last season and an increase in speed may help make up for the losses.
But (get your calculators ready) Casteel says one aspect is missing.
"We're very inconsistent right now," he said. "[The players are] decent one day, then ... But we're installing some things. We've seen some progress, but we're trying to get a consistent effort and physical play. For us to be successful, that's what we have to have a handle in. That's what we're trying to beat into the kids."
Casteel was asked to break down the 3-3-5 odd stack by positions. He couldn't because of ...
"Inconsistency," he said. "We're not very good right now, whether it be the D-line, 'backers or back end. We're not where we need to be. Hopefully, we can continue to get better. We still have a lot of work to do.
"To play at a high level, we're going to have to play on a consistent basis and we're just not consistent in a lot of areas."
To the side of Casteel, Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith was giving the defense compliments for its improvement on disguising schemes.
"They have a pretty good understanding," Casteel said begrudgingly. "I think the safeties are doing a pretty good job of hiding their intentions, which is obviously important with what we do."
Here's the inside scoop, though. The good news for the WVU defense is there haven't been any position moves. That signals some consistency. The bad news is you may have to add the word "yet" to the end of that sentence.
Here's what Casteel said on the record when asked if the linebacker two-deep has been solidified.
"Not yet," said the defensive coordinator. "We're still looking. I think [strong-side linebacker] Doug Rigg has done a consistent job day in and out. He's still learning some things. [Weak-side linebacker] Casey Vance is a kid who is pretty much always in the right spot. [Weak-side 'backer] Josh Francis is inconsistent, but, boy, when he's on, he can make a play.
[Strong-side 'backer] Tyler Anderson has gotten better. So has [strong-side 'backer] Donovan Miles. But we haven't solidified any of that."
Yes, there's also that transfer from Notre Dame, Steve Paskorz.
"Steve is a big, strong kid," Casteel said. "I still think his knee injury is still bothering him. He hasn't said a word. He hasn't missed a rep. But I still think it hurts him a little bit."
The latest depth chart has Rigg starting on the strong side, Goode at middle and Francis or Vance at the weak side. But the depth chart isn't set.
"I'd like to have it right now, but we don't," Casteel said. "The kids really control that. When we get consistent play out of guys, you'll see them out there on game day.