WVU defense eager to improve after Baylor game
MORGANTOWN -- Although the eighth-ranked West Virginia University football team walked away from last weekend's Big 12 Conference opener against Baylor with the victory, it didn't feel like it the for the players on defense.
After allowing the most yards in a game in school history in the 70-63 win, a lot of the players described the game feeling more like a loss than anything.
"It was bad. Saturday night, I wasn't happy at all," said junior linebacker Doug Rigg. "When people say you have a bad defense. ... they look at you as a lousy unit from top to bottom. You take it personally.
"West Virginia prides itself on playing tough defense. It's a lot going on that really makes you want to change it."
But with a difficult test in Texas coming up Saturday night, the Mountaineers realize there's no time to dwell on what happened a week ago. West Virginia (4-0) plays No. 11 Texas (4-0) at 7 p.m. in Austin, Texas. FX has the telecast.
That's where the coaches come into play.
"It's why I love to coach," said co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. "It's because of that challenge of being able to take a 19- or 20-year-old young man who faces a little bit of adversity and teach him to rise up from that and play with confidence the next week and do something about it."
The Longhorns will provide a much different challenge than a Baylor team that spread the field and ran its offense faster than most teams in the nation.
WVU will be seeing a lot more pro-style sets with fullbacks and multiple tight ends than it was used to seeing in the Big East Conference for the last few seasons.
"We're going to have to overcome what happened last week and move on," said co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. "We're playing an entirely different offense and we have to move on and learn from last week and forget about it."
And while they might not have realized it at the end of Saturday's game, after watching film throughout the week, the Mountaineers noticed there were plenty of things they did well against the Bears.
They were solid against the run, allowing a little more than two yards per carry, which will be an important trend to continue against a Texas team that features a strong stable of running backs who can make a big impact in close games.
"They know they did some really good things," said defensive line coach Erik Slaughter. "If it was a deal where they couldn't see that they did some things well, then it'd be a problem.
"We just have to be more consistent in everything we do defensively. There are a lot of things we can clean up, but as coaches, that's our job."
With the nation watching, this week's game against Texas could be crucial for the Mountaineer defense to gain back some of the confidence it lost last week.
It's a chance to prove people wrong for doubting there's more talent in Morgantown than the guys moving the ball at ease on the offense.
"This is a big stage. Everybody wants to see this game and we want to show the nation we can be an elite team in their place," Rigg said. "We need to make a statement this game. The whole country doesn't think we're any good.
"We need to show them something on Saturday."