MORGANTOWN - As soon as Doug Rigg and the rest of West Virginia's linebackers had begun spring practice this week, they heard the new mantra.
OK, so that figures, right? The Mountaineers are installing an entirely new defensive scheme with four new defensive coaches who a year ago were at four different schools. Sure, it's going to take a while.
But Rigg and the linebackers weren't being asked to patiently learn the new defense. No, that's expected to be done as quickly as possible.
When the coaches told Rigg to be patient, they meant to be less aggressive. At least at the snap of the ball.
"The first thing they told us when they brought us in was to be patient,'' Rigg said. "Last year's defense was all about when the ball was snapped you had to get down and get into the seams.''
Welcome to the world of the 3-4 alignment after a decade of the hybrid 3-3-5 that has been WVU's trademark.
"The way our defensive line is positioned, it takes a lot of stress off of us,'' Rigg said of himself and the other linebackers, who will number four on the field next season. "It lets us play more freely and read where the back is going instead of just running into a gap, getting off a block and trying to make a play. That resulted in some big gains.''
Well, it didn't always result in big gains. West Virginia used the 3-3-5 for 11 years, and some of those defenses were among the best in the country. That only happened, though, when the Mountaineers had exactly the right combination of talent and experience. When forced to play without an abundance of both, the defense often struggled.