spring football questions and answers examines the melding of the defensive staff."> spring football questions and answers examines the melding of the defensive staff.">

Answering the Questions - 4

Part four of our <a href="http://westvirginia.theinsiders.com/2/100981.html">spring football</a> questions and answers examines the melding of the defensive staff.

Will the defensive staff be able to come together quickly enough?

We think the answer to this was a reosunding "yes", which should have a positive effect on the defense this year.

With new coaches, returning coaches, and coaches at different positions, the teaching of the defense seemed to split into two distinct phases during the spring.

For the first few sessions, the coaches were learning about each other and how to mix their teaching methods as much as they were teaching the players. Instructions were kept simple and the defense concentrated on the basics.

For example, defensive back coach Tony Gibson and spurs and bandits coach Bruce Tall worked together a great deal during "individual" sessions, and often worked with the corners, safeties, spurs and bandits as a unit to make sure everything was meshing smoothly. These types of interactions, along with the extensive experience of the "newcomers" made for a smooth transition.

"Bruce is a great football coach and has been good to work with," Gibson told BlueGoldNews.com. "He has brought in some great ideas - he was a coordinator and has come up with some different things already in terms of our coverages. We worked together during individual periods during practice a lot, and worked with the back five guys on skeleton pass coverage. He'll be even more involved now that spring football is over with. He was learning on the run during spring ball."

Once that base was laid, the defense began to work on and incorporate some new bits of strategy and tactics over the last couple of weeks of the spring. Although progress was probably a bit more slow than the coaches would have liked, they did achieve their primary goal of incorporating the newcomers (and their ideas) while not confusing the players.

There's more work to be done, of course. The defensive coaches admit that a lot of learning was done on the run during the spring, and now that summer is here the staff will have a chance to study the defense, evaluate film, and be prepared to tweak and improve the scheme in time for fall practice. However, there doesn't seem to be much doubt that the revamped staff has done an excellent job of putting together the pieces so far.

Up next: Can WVU avoid the massive breakdowns that led to three of their four losses in 2002?

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