West Virginia's defense must attempt to overcome a depleted secondary against the nation's second-best scoring team

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Tony Gibson's secondary is reeling with the loss of Karl Joseph and now Terrell Chestnut and Ricky Rumph. How do the Mountaineers counter TCU's vaunted passing game minus much of their back end?

It's an issue every season, and it seems the injuries have begun to mount for West Virginia, which will likely be without Karl JosephTerrell Chestnut and Rick Rumph III against No. 5 TCU this Thursday. Josseph is out for the season with an ACL tear, while Vhestnut, listed as day-to-day, battles a shoulder injury aggravated at Baylor on Oct. 17. Rumph had a death in his family, and is not expected to play. That leaves WVU with Daryl Worley and Rasul Douglas at corner, and a shuffled safety mix that will have Jarrod Harper at bandit, with Dravon Askew-Henry at free and KJ Dillon at spur. At first glance, the line-up looks much the same as it has all season, save the switch at bandit and corner.

But the primary problem comes in nickel packages, and with a lack of depth. The loss of Rumph will force additional time for Jeremy Tyler, and elevate Nana Kyeremeh into a backup role at corner. With TCU often playing quickly, and averaging 50.1 points per game - second only to Baylor in the NCAA ranks - with 389.6 passing yards per game, the numbers are stacked against the Mountaineers. Gibson said he is considering playing more zone behind the front six in an effort to make all more comfortable, but that West Virginia, like any team, can't simply reinvent its scheme even with 10 days between games. WVU must remain its aggressive self, though Gibson did say he would call a more simplistic style with less varied blitz packages and coverages in an effort to get the team to play fast and with confidence as opposed to becoming hesitant while thinking about assignments. 

West Virginia seems to have retained its confidence, however, despite surrendering 693 yards to Baylor, and more than 400 to Oklahoma, and allowing an average of 46.3 points per game in Big 12 play. Below, linebacker Jared Barber discusses that aspect, gives his thoughts on the play of Texas Christian quarterback Trevone Boykin and his development, and details how the Mountaineers can counter both his mobility and dealing with the loss of a trio of defensive backs. 

Defensive line coach Bruce Tall dissects much of the same, including the film breakdown against Baylor and continuing to not deviate too much from the initial defensive game plan to as to detract from West Virginia's aggressive mentality. Tall also discusses the line's ability to gain some pressure and at least limit Boykin and how the response to adversity would showcase how this team will handle the remainder of the schedule.


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