The numbers are clear. Shaquille Riddick has the ability to get to the quarterback -- a talent that the Mountaineer football team has lacked in recent years. After the squad's sack total decreased to an abysmal 16 in 2013, the coaching staff set out to boost that number via a number of paths. The first was some tweaks to the defensive scheme. The second was the addition of Tom Bradley to the coaching staff. The third was via recruiting, but West Virginiagot an unexpected bonus when Riddick identified the school as his landing point for his final season of eligibility.
That story line appears cut and dried, but there's another tangent to follow. Riddick doesn't even identify pass rushing as his top skill, even though he compiled 10.5 sacks and 27 QB hurries during his final two seasons at Gardner-Webb.
"I think I am better against the run than in pass rush," Riddick told BlueGoldNews.com. "I really think I am good all around. That's my strength."
If that's the case, WVU might have found a player that can contribute more than in passing situations. It also would make WVU less vulnerable to pass protection tactics used to counter one-trick pony rushers. Teams will often try to wash such rushers wide of the pocket, or trap them upfield and run inside them. Riddick has seen his share of those approaches, but has the ability to counter them.
Riddick's numbers back up his claim. He had 104 total tackles over his final two seasons. meaning that 94 of his stops were against players other than QBs in the act of passing. He also had 25.5 tackles for loss, and sees his ability to create havoc before a play starts as a hallmark of his game.
"I do like getting into the backfield and stopping a play," he said with a chuckle.
Riddick knows, though, that getting heat on the quarterback will be job one this fall. After conversations with WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and Bradley, he sees places where he can make his mark quickly.
"The defense is a perfect fit for me. We watched film of Bruce Irvin while he was here, and I saw what he did in this defense," Riddick said of his activities on his visit to the Mountaineer campus. "It can get me on the edge on the weak side and let me use my speed."
Riddick still has classwork to finish up to earn his degree, which will then make him eligible to transfer to WVU. He likely won't do so until late July at the earliest, but said he hopes to have everything worked out and be at WVU by the time football camp starts in early August."I loved the campus," he said of his visit that sealed his decision. "The hills are really different. I had driven through West Virginia going to Gardner-Webb, but never had been there. The weight room is amazing. It's way better than anything I have ever had before.