Mountaineer defense 'growing up'
Sep 17, 2012 (Menafn - The Dominion Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --With each move outside of the pocket from James Madison quarterback Justin Thorpe, WVU defensive co-ordinator Joe DeForest knew he was only witnessing the beginning.
"There are several more on the horizon, I promise you that," DeForest said. "We're going to see a lot of athletic quarterbacks. This was good practice for it and hopefully a good teaching tool."
While Thorpe's final stats had him rushing for just 44 yards on 14 attempts, it was his ability to escape pressure and keep plays alive that frustrated the WVU defensive coach.
"We let him get out of the pocket," DeForest said. "We pressured them a bunch, but [Thorpe] is very elusive. It's a credit to him. He's a tremendous athlete. He got out of some situations where we had him pinned up. That's where we need to improve on, our blitzgap lanes. We need to make sure everyone is in the right lane when they do blitz."
In all, a WVU defense that gave 545 yards to Marshall in the seasonopener, held James Madison to 300 during Saturday's 42-12 win, at FedEx Field.
"That's still bad," WVU safety Darwin Cook said. "It didn't feel like 300. We've got to get better."
Thorpe was only able to add 71 yards passing to his rushing totals, while WVU (2-0) did come up with four quarterback sacks, a goal-line stand and an interception by former Morgantown High standout Tyler Anderson.
"I think we played pretty smart defensively," WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "The one turnover we forced was huge in the third quarter. We still didn't get to the quarterback as much as we wanted to. We still didn't tackle as well as we wanted to."
The Mountaineer defenders gained some much-needed confidence with the goal-line stand in the third quarter.
James Madison had a first-andgoal at the WVU 3-yard line, and four running plays would produce just two yards.
"It shows they are growing up," DeForest said. "They grew up a little bit in the second game. We can build off that."
"Everybody has to do their job," Cook added. "Pat Miller held the contain. Doug Rigg came in and closed everything out. That was a situation where everyone played to their assignments."
How the Dukes got to the WVU 3 in the first place was what befuddled Holgorsen.
"Defensively we gave up some big plays to put ourselves in those goal-line situations," Holgorsen said.
JMU running back Jordan Anderson had a 24-yard and a 20-yard run to get the Dukes in scoring range. JMU rushed for 188 yards in the game.
"You can see we were missing sacks and missed some interceptions," Rigg said. "Those things are going to come. We just need to keep playing hard and keep getting to the ball."
Holgorsen said another positive for the WVU defense was JMU converted just 1-of-8 on third down conversion attempts in the first half.
"These guys posed a different challenge than Marshall did," Holgorsen said. "Marshall spread it around. These guys played a little more ball control. We'll play some other teams like this. Texas is going to do some of this stuff and Kansas State is going to do some of this stuff. Third downs were better. We got off the field better. I think there was some improvement."
DeForest said more improvement would be needed.
"I'd like a few more turnovers from this group," DeForest said. "It wasn't from a lack of trying. I think they were doing exactly what we asked them to do. You have to give some credit to James Madison. They took care of the football."
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