MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (September 1, 2020)–Sports everywhere have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. American football is one of many expected to play without fans this fall. So what does this mean for defense? Specifically the secondary of the beloved West Virginia Mountaineers.
While the Mountaineers still have a long way to go in the preseason. Assumptions can’t be made on whether or not this defense will hold strong on their first game, September 12th against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
The Colonels, as of stats from 2019, have proved to not have the most explosive passing game out of all potential candidates that the Mountaineers could face. This shouldn’t make Eastern Kentucky on your easy win list however. As this team is far from an easy battle. As the Colonels exited last season with a (7-5, 5-3) record.
As mentioned earlier their passing game isn’t as explosive as some others in the league. According to the stats, the Colonels focus less on exposing opposing teams’ secondaries with being in favor of providing a challenge for opposing lineman. As the Colonels produced exceptional rushing yards last year (2,238 YDS). It’s safe to assume we can expect a lot of run plays involving halfbacks and potentially full backs. A good thing for WVU’s secondary, maybe not so much for our guys on the line.
“I thought our defensive guys really bounced back and competed today,” head coach Neal Brown said at training camp two days after the team’s first scrimmage on August 22nd. “They owned their mistakes and came out and made corrections, and our guys on the backend really competed,” he said. “I think they had multiple interceptions. A couple of them they just took away from the wide receivers. Our defensive backs had more fire than our receivers did.”
Coach Brown has made assurances with the press that the Mountaineer defense is more alive than ever before. Even more on top of the game then some of the team’s receivers. A fantastic tune for any die-hard Mountaineer fans getting ready for game one of the 2020 season.
Odds are the Mountaineers and their fans are in for a heart-racing and cutthroat opener. Which is especially welcome during these troubling times with COVID and everything else that’s happening in the world.
It’s especially important for the Mountaineers to come off strong with a win. Not only to bolster confidence within the fanbase, but in our players as well. A win this early would preach volumes for the team’s momentum, arguably the most important aspect of football that can decide which team leaves victorious.
Setting an example for our rivals in the Big 12 will also provide extra benefit, not only among the rankings, but within overall confidence of the team and general support from the fans. Which will be of absolute importance further down the line, when the Mountaineers inevitably face the kings of the playground. The Sooners, the Longhorns, and our good friends over at Baylor. The Sooners being the biggest threat to every football program in the Big 12, perhaps even the NCAA. As they’re a dual threat with weapons, both on their passing and rush game.
The Longhorns have similar potential given last year’s stats for their passing and rush game. It’s ultimately going to come down to the Mountaineers secondary to provide the offense a chance to get down the field and score points. Especially considering the capabilities of both teams’ offenses. The Mountaineer defense is going to be the most vital aspect of a lot of these games in the Big 12. Which is why it’s excellent hearing coach Brown speak highly of the defense’s new attitude, and their improvement since last Saturday’s scrimmage.
If West Virginia wants a chance at the throne, they’re going to have to put in the work. By getting these obstacles out of the way early. West Virginia’s path to victory will be even easier than before.
The Mountaineers are going to have to achieve victory without their fanbase. Another vital aspect to any successful team. This year the Mountaineers are only going to have themselves to rely on. The brotherhood that will be formed this year, the bonds they form here, will decide the fate for Mountaineer football and football everywhere.
If they can accomplish this, then they will immortalize themselves within history. We can’t wait for the season to begin to see our Mountaineers climb the ranks and show the NCAA what they’re made of.
Photos Credit:Caleb Saunders-WVU Sports