Randolph's Transition Successful

In just a few short months, defensive line coach Paul Randolph has settled comfortably into his slot on the Mountaineer football coaching staff.

There's a lot more than meets the eye in changing any job, especially for a football coach. Moving the family and taking care of a million and one "outside" concerns consumes a great deal of time, and that doesn't begin to take into account the demands of the new job. There's also the daunting task of making a place for yourself on the staff and on the field.

Some head coaches will detail to a new assistant the precise way in which he wants things taught, while others may be less stringent. At WVU, head coach Rich Rodriguez has implemented a team building approach that sits well with his staff.

"When you come in for a head coach like Rich Rodriguez, he allows you to coach your position," Randolph told BlueGoldNews.com. "He makes it easy to teach your techniques."

The term "techniques" covers a lot of ground. It might be something as simple as a defensive lineman's stance or hand position when he comes off the ball. However, the sheer number of them is what gives individual position coaches ther challenges.

At West Virginia, developing those techniques are done in a group environment that allows the coaching staff to share ideas and come up with the best possible methods to implement.

"We sit down as a staff and decide the best techniques to fit our scheme," Randolph said. "We all then go and teach those schemes to our position players, and then put it all together to make the defense."

While some techniques remain the same no matter what defense is being played, Randolph notes that there are some differences depending on what type of defensive front is being played. That, in turn, can lead to some changes being made in the way certain things are taught.

"Last year, WVU was more of an attack front, but this year, we're more of a combination of controlling the line of scrimmage along with an attack front," the enthusiastic Randolph said. "The bottom line, though, is to neutralize the line of scrimmage and win the trenches as fast as you can."

To achieve that goal, Randolph will turn to the stalwart of his defensive line, David Upchurch, who got work at both nose tackle and defensive end during spring practice.

"I'd like to play David Upchurch all over the place, and I think I'm going to be able to," Randolph analyzed. "Upchurch brings a special quality to the defensive line in that he can play either position. He might be able to help us more on the edge (defensive end) but to run this scheme you have to have an extremely talented nose tackle, and right now he is my best nose tackle. If we can get another nose tackle, that can play and contribute, then that will give us the opportunity to move around. I think he'll end up playing both positions."

The determining factor in Upchurch's playing positioning will likely be in the hands of backup nose guards Ernest Hunter and Kelvin Dubouse. Hunter, who made great strides this spring, could be ready to make a solid contribution this fall. Dubouse, who sat out last year to concentrate on academics, is still working on gaining his eligibility.

Aside from personnel, Randolph said that his biggest surprise has been the work ethic of his players.

"From my first day here [in February], the way the guys have worked has improved every day. The attitude, the mental focus, everything has improved. It has continued through the summer. I'm very pleased with that."

Of course, every team and every coach has similar things to say during the offseason. The proof will be on the field come September, when WVU will face some offensive lines that Randolph is very impressed with.

"Big, strong and powerful", is Randolph's assessment of opposing offensive lines.

"There is some very talented offensive line play in the teams we've looked at so far. I know all the guys are going to have to be ready to play. My belief is that it starts in the trenches, and that's going to be our focus."

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