Defensive Delight

West Virginia's defensive line defined the phrase "patchwork" against Rutgers on Saturday. But there was nothing ragged about their performance.

Paul Randolph's troops in the defensive trenches were shorthanded against the Scarlet Knights for several different reasons. Ernest Hunter was out after suffering a broken leg the previous week against Maryland. David Upchurch was limping on a sore knee. And Kelvin Dubouse did not make the trip due to disciplinary reasons.

Faced with these problems, the coaching staff shuffled defensive ends Tim Love and Jason Davis to the nose, while leaving Upchurch outside. That also opened up more playing time for Kevin Freeman, Fred Blueford, and Ben Lynch at the end positions.

The end result? A defensive gem. The Mountaineers throttled the Scarlet Knight rushing game, permitting only twenty yards on twenty-five carries. No matter who you're playing, that's impressive.

"It's a confidence booster," Upchurch noted after the game. "Staying disciplined and tackling well are the keys to a good defense, and we showed we can do that. We're proud of the effort we gave today."

The defensive line wasn't totally unfamiliar with the position changes, as some players had previous experience to bank on.

"I played inside a couple years ago, so it's not a big adjustment for me," said Tim Love, who started the Mountaineer scoring parade with a first quarter safety. "I like it in there, and I like it outside. It doesn't really matter much to me where I play."

Love's adaptability was bolstered by the help of Upchurch, who dispensed a good bit of advice during the week of practice leading up to the game.

"I helped them a lot - I tried to let them know the ins and outs of [playing nose]. With more time and more experience, they're going to be good at it, becuase they're quicker than me. Jason is strong, and Tim is a fighter, so once they get a grasp of it we're going to give some problems to other teams."

Despite their thinned numbers, the Mountaineers began giving problems to their opponents last Saturday. With Dubouse scheduled to return this week, West Virginia may be able to weather the loss of Hunter without any serious repercussions.


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