Best-Laid Plans

WVU's defensive staff has their game day procedures all mapped out and ready to go, according to co-defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.

"I'm going to be up in the box and Todd (Graham) will be down on the field. He'll ultimately make the defensive calls," Casteel said of the coaching arrangements. "I'll be upstairs with the graduate assistants, and Gibby (defensive back coach Tony Gibson) and Paul Randolph will be on the field.

"Rich (Rodriguez) is going to be involved on the defensive side too, so it will be a team effort."

One of the concerns that came up with the appointment of Casteel and Graham as co-cordinators was how decisions would be made in the heat of battle, but Casteel doesn't see that as a problem.

"That's what Sunday through Friday is for, to prepare for all the different situations you are going to see. If you do your homework during the course of the week, then Saturday is not quite as hectic as you might think.

"But you have to be on your toes and make sure that you do a good job with the kids, and that they know what to expect."

From his press box vantage point, Casteel will watch opposing offense, and relay the things he sees, including personnel changes, formations, and tendencies to Graham on the field. He'll also look at his defense's alignment, and analyze how the Mountaineer defensive game plan is reacting to offensive changes, which WVU is likely to see as opposing offenses get their first looks at West Virginia's revamped defensive scheme.

Although Mountaineer opponents will be able to look at film of other schools who are using similar defenses, Casteel hopes that the unfamiliarity with the odd stack defense will give his troops a bit of an advantage.

"I think people will be able to see other teams play it like South Carolina and Wake Forest, but it's also going to be a different look for people to prepare for.

"We have to do a good job of moving around and getting into different formations, and I think it will benefit us, and it will definitely be unique to the Big East."

Of course, like any good coach, Casteel knows that it's not the scheme that wins games, but rather talent and execution. While the odd stack scheme does fit WVU's current personnel better, Casteel is still reshaping recruiting strategies, especially for players who will man the front line.

"Up front you're looking for a two gap player, with a strong lower body and low center of gravity. The ends are more the elongated, bigger type guys in the 6-5 range. Someone like Jason Davis is the perfect body type we are looking for," Casteel noted.

"At linebacker we're still looking for kids that can run, of course, and really the types of defensive backs haven't changed much either. From the linebackers on back, the type hasn't changed much."

Like all defensive coordinators, Casteel continues to espouse the one ingredient that can turn a mediocre defense into a sound one, and a good defense into a great one.

"Speed," he summed up, "is still the key."

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