Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said that the overall play of his defense has been up and down to this point in camp, which is to be expected in the second week of August, especially considering all of the new faces that are running with the first team unit. Although he would like to see the players cut down on some of the mental errors Gibson did say he is pleased with the energy and intensity that players are bringing to practice every day.
As camp progresses Gibson knows will have to start making some personnel changes and cut back on the number of players getting reps. That point could come as early as next week as the first scrimmage concludes on Saturday.
"They were told that we would set the depth chart for Saturday's defense like it's the Missouri game and we're going to grade you," Gibson said. "The guys who deserve to start will start on Saturday and we may go with 15-18 guys that run with the ones and 15-18 guys that run with the twos."
Gibson is excited to see how his defense responds when coaches aren't on the field with the players and admitted he will have some tough decisions to make after evaluating the performance of his players in Saturday's scrimmage.
"Going into next Monday we'll kind of have to hone in on the guys that we're go use in different packages and who's going to be our free safety, strong safety, whatever it may be," Gibson said.
Some decisions will be easier than others for Gibson, and one area that he is still somewhat unsure of is the cornerback position.
"(Defensive back) is probably the one (area that is the toughest decision to make)," Gibson said. "There are some guys right now - Antonio Crawford, Maurice Fleming, Rasul Douglas and Nana Kyeremeh. Those four guys right now probably out in the lead but we're still not giving up on (Elijah) Battle or (Mike) Daniels by any means."
The hope is that the picture at cornerback and the defense as a whole will become a lot clearer in the next few weeks as the Mountaineers continue to scrimmage and simulate live game action leading into their opener against Missouri, which is just a little over three weeks away.
In the video above you can see West Virginia's second offense going against the second defense in a situational drill where the offense has 1:45 remaining and one timeout left. If you tend to have a more optimistic outlook you will be impressed with the defense and their ability to stall the Mountaineers offense. Either way this is a very small sample size, so keep that in mind before rushing to judgement about the depth of either unit. In the video we can see the defense force a pair of incompletions and we see Reese Donahue beat right tackle Marcell Lazard to sack Chris Chugunov.