The Song Remains The Same

The quotes are almost interchangeable. After every football game this year, questions about the problems of the Mountaineer rushing defense are greeted with the same replies.

From Rick Sherrod:

"We're just not making any plays. Against the option, it's a lot of different things. Guys get confused. People don't know when they are supposed to take the quarterback and when they are supposed to take the pitch. I think that's what's going on with us right now.

I can't say that we're sturggling with the scheme shanges because they (the coaches) made it so simple. It seems like everywhere you look there's a big hole. I don't know what to say."

From James Davis:

"We just need to execute. Everyone has an assignment, and once we do that, we'll stop the option.

"Sometimes we struggle (with our assignments) in practice. Sometimes we do good, and sometimes we're bad. We have to work on our discipline.

From Corey McIntyre:

"Something just gives, and boom, there's a big play. It's holding us back. We have to correct those plays and make sure they don't happen again."

All those comments came after the Notre Dame game, but they could easily be applied to all of WVU's games this year. The Mountaineers, to a man, admit that they are not running the defense correctly. Even head coach Rich Rodriguez seems kind of resigned to that fact, saying that he wasn't surprised Notre Dame ran the ball so well. So, is there anything WVU can do to stem the tide?

At this point, with the season half over, there's probably not a lot that can be done from a scheme standpoint. There just isn't enough time to implement any major changes, even if the coaching staff should be so inclined.

In fact, there's probably not much the staff can do at all, other than continue to teach. The coaches can't make the players execute their assingments, or improve their concentration. The coaches can't make the players listen, for that matter. That has to come from the team, and from each individual on the defense.

At this point, with things going sour, that's a difficult task. Every player on the defense has to work on his awareness and concentration on each play. He has to listen to waht the coaches are trying to teach and take it to heart. He has to run through the call before the play, know his keys, and then get to the proper popsition. There's no magic to this - it's simply mental discipline.

Can that happen? It's very difficult to change a mindset, especially in midstream when things are going bad. Yet, there are some players, like Corey McIntyre who believe that the defense can do it.

"It's going to get turned around. This program is going to get turned around, and it's going there [now]."

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