MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–All the hype leading into the West Virginia University football season was on the Mountaineers’ defense.
Even though WVU only allowed 17 points two weeks ago against Liberty, the Mountaineers’ defense appeared flat.
“It wasn’t our best football,” senior linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said. “I just didn’t feel the intensity, and we made some mistakes. We have a long way to go.”
The Flames put up a total of 372 yards of total offense. They completed 17-of-27 passes for 172 yards.
The Mountaineers were unable to force any turnovers against Liberty after coming up with five in the opener.
WVU’s defense gave up some big plays. Tackling was an issue. The secondary blew coverages and the Mountaineers’ lacked that spark of energy.
“The most disappointing thing out of the whole film is that they just didn’t play hard,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “We can’t have that. We’re going to blow assignments. We are going to do some things not so good at times, but there is no excuse for not playing hard.”
The Mountaineers were hoping to improving on getting to the quarterback this season after notching 20 sacks in 13 games in 2014. However, Noble Nwachukwu is the only member of the defense with a sack.
Against the Flames, no one even rushed John Woodrum to hurry a throw.
This week the WVU defense had to respond to its disappointing showing.
“We had a very interesting meeting on Sunday after the game, and I felt a lot better after that meeting,” Gibson said. “I was able to get things off my chest. You can tell we have a mature defense, because they were disappointed.
“There were a couple of text messages between myself and some of the guys. They responded and came in, and Sunday was probably the best practice I’ve been around during the season in a long time. They were excited to get back to work after a couple days off. They were flying around.”
Coach Gibson’s message read loud and clear to his players.
“Obviously, we didn’t play how we wanted to play,” redshirt senior cornerback Terrell Chestnut said. “We went to practice, and we tried to correct the mistakes that we made. Honestly, I felt like we lost the game. That’s then and this is now. It’s time for us to focus on Maryland. We can’t be content. Every day we have to strive to be elite, and that’s what coach Gibson would say. We have to be elite. We can’t take any days off.”
The Mountaineers’ defense is the backbone of this year’s squad, but the schedule isn’t about to get any easier.