West Virginia is Facing a Major Rebuilding Job This Spring Under Coordinator Tony Gibson

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - With West Virginia facing a difficult rebuilding job on defense, coordinator Tony Gibson notes that the Mountaineers have the physical ability. Now, it's time to match the mental game to provide far better execution.

Gibson, above, details his overall thoughts on the defense including a quick run-through of individual players and positions. And while he notes that the Mountaineers are behind where they should be, Gibson also acknowledges some of the physical talent on the team. Players like corner Antonio Crawford and linebacker Xavier Preston, along with the likes of Noble Nwachukwu up front, provide a dose of the raw talent needed to match-up with some of the nation's premier offenses in the Big 12. The problem for the team now is its mental understanding and discipline within schemes, something Preston has struggled with at times. 

Gibson also speaks to the depleted defensive backfield, and the increased ability of players like Rasul Douglas and Crawford to compete, with Crawford getting a nod with his ability to finish plays. The Miami transfer breaks on the ball effectively, can flip his hips and gets in and out of turns. Gibson also notes that he challenges for the ball in the air effectively, and manages to high point it most of the time. 

Next, first year safeties coach Matt Caponi details how is unit fits into the overall scheme of the defense, and some minor tweaks the staff has made to footwork and other aspects. Caponi also delves into how the change in coaching at both positions has affected the back end of the defense, and his working relationship with fellow first-year assistant Blue Adams, in charge of the corners. Caponi also talks about the development of Marvin Gross and how the junior has elevated himself into the two-deep - he worked as the starter at spur on Saturday - with his continued progression.

Finally, linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton dissects the defensive mentality during the rebuild, and what the ceiling is for this unit, with a mix of younger players trying to mesh with inexperienced veterans. Benton, the starter at mike, said he enjoys the lower expectations, and the challenges of facing an experienced offense with excellent wideouts on a daily basis.


Mountaineers Daily Top Stories