Having Fun

As chants of DEE-FENSE DEE-FENSE rose from the Mountaineer faithful in attendance at West Virginia's 15-7 win over Syracuse on Sunday, one player clad in the all blue uniforms of WVU seemed to be enjoying himself more than most.

With every repetition from the crowd, defensive lineman Keilein Dykes swayed, bobbed and all but broke out into a few dance moves as his fed off the energy of the crowd. The reaction was understandable, as WVU's stop troops had enjoyed an almost perfect day to that point against the beleaguered Syracuse offense. The Orange barely managed to break 100 yards of total offense on the afternoon, and much of that was due to the play of Dykes and his teammates along the front line, who dominated their opposite numbers across the line of scrimmage

"It was so much fun, the big lineman said with a smile that mirrored the one he displayed on the field as the chants rained down. "No more practices. This was game time. You only get 11 days to do it after you work so hard all summer so you have to have fun.

"It feels good. You had the fans up there in the corner and they were louder than the Orange fans."

There was no doubt Dykes appreciated the support. He smiled, bobbed his head and even waved at the Syracuse offensive linemen to bring it on as the WVU defense, which was nothing short of spectacular, waited for another chance to inflict more damage on the Orange attack.

While Dykes noted that the coaching staff will likely find a few things to pick on during tape review, he wasn't shy in passing out an early grade for the men in blue.

"I'm sure they will find some mistakes somewhere, but I'd give the defense an A+++," he said in response to a request for a performance evaluation "Guys were out there flying around and having fun. That's how it's supposed to be. When you get all 11 of us together having fun, we're going to be tough."

"Everybody got bigger and stronger over the summer," said the Youngstown, Ohio native as he explained some of the reasons for the Mountaineers' stellar play in the trenches. "We have a nice rotation on [the defensive line] and got a lot guys in there. We were able to get a rotation in there, and everybody was fresh and played hard."

It didn't take long for Dykes to sense the advantage that WVU had up front.

"When they came out they were trying to run the ball at us and pound us," he said of the initial strategy employed by the Orange. "But after we stopped that, it didn't seem like they knew what to do. They didn't surprise us with anything. We looked at all the information we could get on them, and got prepared. I was never caught off guard, and I don't think the defense was, and it shows in the stats."

Those stats included numbers like 18 total yards rushing, a paltry 1.8 yards per play, and 12 Syracuse possessions of three plays or fewer. Add in the big scoring plays by his teammates, and the picture of a totally devastated Syracuse offense was complete.

"We came up with some big plays at the right time," Dykes said of his teammates' play. "Ernest made a big play, Wicks made a big play, and it all just came together."

As it did, and it became apparent that there was nothing Syracuse could do to dent the mighty Mountaineer defensive front on this day, the sounds began rumbling from the WVU section of the disheartened Carrier Dome.





To Dykes and the boys up front, it was the sound of a job well done.

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