MORGANTOWN - The questions surrounding West Virginia's retooled defense heading into Saturday's season opener with Marshall and beyond are almost too numerous to list.
New scheme, new players, new coaches, new attitude; depth, pass coverage, pass rush - pick an issue, any issue.
Dana Holgorsen, though, has one point of interest that seems to override all others where his defense is concerned. And it deals more with mindset and mentality than anything specific.
"My biggest concern is replacing guys like Keith Tandy and Najee Goode, who were the backbone of what we did defensively and were the best leaders that we had on the team,'' Holgorsen said. "It takes game-type experiences to see which one of those guys are going to step up and become leaders and guys that we can rely on when things aren't going good or whatever it is.''
He's not alone.
"They're not leaders until the bullets are flying and things are going bad,'' said Joe DeForest, himself a rookie of sorts in his first season as a defensive coordinator. "We just don't know how guys are going to react.''
Indeed, there is actually a good bit of experience returning to West Virginia's defense this season. Granted, even those experienced players are dealing with a new scheme and new coaches, but among the defenders - including those listed in backup roles - 11 have started games and six have pretty much a full season as starters under their belt - Terence Garvin (24 starts), Jorge Wright (13), Darwin Cook (13), Will Clarke (11), Pat Miller (11) and Doug Rigg (9). The others are Brodrick Jenkins (4), Jared Barber (2), Josh Francis (1) and Wes Tonkery (1). Jewone Snow has also started seven games, but isn't on the depth chart because of injuries.