MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Coming to West Virginia is a little bit of a change for assistant coach Al Pogue. Everything from the weather to the atmosphere is different for the Mobile, Ala. native.
“It is definitely a change but I’m getting used to it,” he said. “If it does snow and you guys see a guy that is slow with blinkers on, it’s coach Pogue.”
All joking aside, Pogue is thrilled to be a Mountaineer.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said. “(It’s a) great group of kids. They’ve been really receptive. Sometimes change is hard but these kids are awesome. I’m excited about them.”
Despite the coaching changes, it shouldn’t be too hard for the defensive players to adapt to defensive coordinator Vic Koenning’s scheme.
With what Pogue has seen from the athletes in the locker room, he thinks they will adjust just fine.
“I don’t think the transition should be that hard because these kids, there is some really talented kids that I’m getting to work with here,” he said.
Not only is WVU blessed with plentiful talent but also the football players have been very receptive of the new coaching staff.
“I’ve seen guys’ willingness to do some of the things I’ve asked them to do,” Pogue said. “That’s been really refreshing. Sometimes change is hard but these guys have been really receptive to the coach and everything that he has done for them from a coaching standpoint. They’re accustomed to working hard so that makes it really refreshing. I’m excited about the opportunity to get in and work with these guys.”
With the Mountaineers Pogue will be coaching outside linebackers. It is a adjustment from his time at Troy, where he coached cornerbacks since 2018.
However, the former Alabama State safety and corner is up for the challenge and doesn’t think he will have too much trouble acclimating to his new role.
“Normally I’d say yes but in this case I’m very fortunate because I’ve worked with coach Koenning for four years now so I’m very familiar with his system,” he said. “We call it outside linebacker but we like to use the phrase inside corners so that makes it a lot easier for the transition. It’s going to be a little challenging but for me, I feel really comfortable with it because again, I’ve been with coach Koenning so long.”
Last season the Mountaineers embraced their undersized linebackers. Pogue likes athletes with long arms but isn’t about to write anyone off.
“First of all, is the kid a really good football player because I think that trumps all the things,” he said. “If the kid is really dynamic football player, that makes up for if he is a shorter guy. That will make up for it but my deal is going to be arm length with guys. You really want guys that have great length because people understand if a guy can put his hands up, it’s a problem for a quarterback to see over guys. Again not so much height for me. If a guy is 6-foot or taller, I am all for it but I’m not going to shun a guy because he is 5’9″, 5’10” and may be a good football player. If the guy can play and help us win a Big 12 Championship, I’m all for it.”
His position players will come into every game ready to play.
“I’m coaching the inside corners so those guys are going to be ready to cover,” Pogue said. “We move a lot. We bring a lot of pressure and we still have all our zones protected as well. We think what we do from a defensive standpoint will match up well and hopefully give some guys some feeling of excitement.”
Cover Photo Credit: Troy Trojans Athletics