Ever since the Mountaineers week one blunder to Maryland in which the West Virginia defense surrendered 30 points, there has been a different feel within the Mountaineer defense this year to limiting opponents to all chance of forward progression on the turf and making stops when needed.
Ironically enough, during the season opening loss to Maryland, redshirt senior safety Sean Mahone was the leader on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage collecting 11 tackles and nine of his own on the day. The redshirt senior was the only player on the Mountaineers to record double digit tackles that game as well.
After limiting No. 4 Oklahoma to 16 points this past weekend, the Mountaineer defense is showing why they deserve to be mentioned as one of the best in all of college football this season. A big part of that defensive effort is the redshirt senior Mahone who alongside Josh Chandler-Semedo made a combined 22 total tackles on Saturday evening.
“I think there’s a formula for us to win big here and I think that’s built around playing great defense, I think that fits us,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “We’ve got to continue to make strides on defense and we’ve got to get deeper on defense but I think we’re developing a standard that we’re going to play defense at a high level.”
Mahone has experienced a solid career in the old gold and blue currently participating in his sixth collegiate season in the allowed NCAA COVID-19 eligible season. Overall in his college playing days, Mahone has seen playing time in 42 games with 22 of those being starts.
The safety also played well against Virginia Tech a couple weeks ago in which he took down Hokies ball carriers seven times. Mahone’s redshirt junior season in 2020 saw him finish as the team’s fifth-leading tackler on the West Virginia defense with 54 tackles and has almost always been known as a tackling machine in Morgantown alongside fellow redshirt senior safety Alonzo Addae.
“I would say disguising stuff, obviously with an older group we’re able to kind of understand the different pieces and how everything goes together and not just go out there and tilt our hat or hand to the quarterback,” S Alonzo Addae said.
The first of the two redshirt junior years that Mahone played through in 2019 saw him reach his tackling peak while leading the Mountaineers on the season with 80 tackles as well as ranking No. 12 in the Big 12 with 6.7 tackles per game.
Mahone has mainly been used as a cat safety under Neal Brown starting 22 games at the position the last two seasons. To describe how well of a tackler Mahone has been, the safety went into this year second on the team in career tackles at 143.
The theme for Mahone throughout his entire football career has been consistency and always seeming to be around the football to make a stop for his defense. Even in his high school days, Mahone was a tackler bringing down 94 tackles and five interceptions mixed in there in his final two years of high school ball at Lakota West High School in Liberty Township, Ohio.
Even through all his success on the field, Mahone has been named an Academic All-Big 12 First Team member every single year since he’s been in college at West Virginia. It surely makes sense that a guy so smart can dissect offenses quicker and know where the ball carrier is going to be in order to make the defensive stop.
Mahone and the rest of the West Virginia defense will need to step up and take care of a tough Texas Tech offensive squad on Saturday even after just losing their starting quarterback this past weekend. Kickoff for this weekend is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. inside Milan Puskar Stadium and will be televised on FS1.
(Top Photo: Ben Queen)