Wednesday, July 26, 2017

WVU takes a chance in a trio of cornerbacks

WVU's Rasul Douglas (13) breaks up a pass to Missouri wide receiver Justin Smith (8) on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.  (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

WVU’s Rasul Douglas (13) breaks up a pass to Missouri wide receiver Justin Smith (8) on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–The secondary was an area of concern for West Virginia University heading into the season.

The Mountaineers lost a lot of experienced leaders in the backfield but if game one is any indication of how the season will play out, fans could be in for a pleasant surprise with a trio of gritty cornerbacks.

Typically teams have two starting cornerbacks but WVU is breaking the mold with three starters.

No, three aren’t on the field at once but the Mountaineers are fortunate to have Rasul Douglas, Maurice Fleming and Antonio Crawford listed as starters.

“Overall, those guys carry the bulk of the load, Rasul, Fleming, AC,” cornerbacks coach Blue Adams said. “I was happy with them. They did some good things, all of them did. They did some not so good things. So we will clean those up and get back.”

But it seems to work for this group of Mountaineers, who held the Missouri Tigers to 11 points on Saturday.

“Made a few mistakes, Fleming said. “It was the first game of the season. Us defensive backs will lock in better. We need more turnovers.”

Raul Douglas (13) and Skyler Howard (3) celebrate WVU's 26-11 win over Missouri on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

Raul Douglas (13) and Skyler Howard (3) celebrate WVU’s 26-11 win over Missouri on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

The Miami transfer, Crawford, led the defense with eight solo tackles and a pass breakup.

But it’s about teamwork and winning more than it is padding their stats.

“Coming in at Iowa I was just a backup, coming in at nickel, so I’m alright with it,” Fleming said. “I’m just fine with it because in the Big 12 you play a lot more. You need fresh legs out there. We don’t need to be tired and all and give up big plays.”

Since WVU has multiple athletes rotating in and out of the game, it is important that everyone knows the game plan.

“It’s very important that we always on the same page,” Fleming said. “We have to click together in order to get something going. The goal for everybody is to always win the game. We talk it out and everybody is just best friends, like brothers.”

WVU's Marvin Gross (18) and Maurice Fleming (24) line up against Missouri on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

WVU’s Marvin Gross (18) and Maurice Fleming (24) line up against Missouri on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.
(Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS)

So far, the Mountaineers are doing a good job at knowing what needs done on the field.

“Communication was great,” Crawford said. “We’ve been practicing communication all camp, all spring. That was one of my main emphasis coming in as a new guy, just getting on the same page and stuff, starting safeties, and the other corners and linebackers. Just helping build the defense up. We’re all new together.”

Nana Kyeremeh also sees significant playing time for WVU and having four strong corners makes it easy for everyone to improve with each day.

“It’s always good for competition,” Crawford said. “We just feed off each other, compete every play. We don’t get complacent at any time. We are like a family. We just feed off each other.”

 

Cover Photo Credit: Kelsie VanderWijst, BGS

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