Ready For Anything

Quinton Andrews and the West Virginia defense are preparing for next week's primetime game with Auburn.

Quinton Andrews has heard all the talk about the West Virginia-Auburn game being a defensive battle. He's heard the wisecracks about final scores of 3-2, 7-3, and any other single-digit combination you can come up with.

He's heard about Auburn's struggles on offense, so extreme that Tigers head coach Tommy Tuberville canned first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin in the midst of preparations for last weekend's game against Arkansas.

And, without question, he's certainly heard the local yokels stewing -- no pun intended -- about his team's lack of offensive prowess, struggling to score but 22 points per game, a number which dips to 17 against competition that counts.

Certainly, he's heard it. And, being a defensive player, one has to think that talk of a defensive slobber knocker is music to the ears of WVU's junior safety.

Problem is, he's not buying it. At all.

"For some reason, I've just kind of had this feeling that the offense is going to breakout in this game and do a lot more," Andrews said. "Knowing what type of defense that Auburn runs, aggressive with a lot of blitzing and man-to-man coverage, hopefully our offense will come through. I think they will."

Come again?

"That's just a gut feeling," he continued. "I've felt that way for the past couple of days. Knowing the type of guys that we have on offense and their ability to make the big plays I just think that this is going to be the game where we show up throwing balls down the field and make plays underneath for big gains and long yardage."

So if nothing else, West Virginia's offense has a public vote of confidence from a player who has been one of the team's defensive standouts this season.

Of course Andrews and his running mates on the defense will be doing all they can to hold up their end of the defensive struggle. Doing so, however, has been a little bit harder than usual in terms of preparation.

As mentioned above, Franklin, the man hired to turn Auburn's ball-control, grind-it-out offensive attack into a high-flying powerful spread offense, is no longer calling the shots down on the Plains.

Thus, West Virginia's defensive players and coaches have to take each film session with the proverbial grain of salt, particularly when looking at games from early in the season.

The question is, will the Tigers continue with the old, now new, offense which struggled mightiliy in last week's loss to the Razorbacks? Or, will they keep element's of Franklin's spread, given that they spent all spring and summer learning its ins and outs.

"I think it will be a little bit of both because you don't want to change your total offense in a week or two," Andrews said. "It will be a combination of what they ran with their old coordinator and their new coordinator."

It's not as though the Tigers are devoid of talent. On the contrary, they have plenty of it. And in preparing for next week's game, it is the personnel -- not the formations or schemes -- that West Virginia's defense will study the most.

Logically speaking, if you can get a feel for the players and their tendencies, the manner in which they line up is not as much of an issue.

"They aren't too much different from any other team," Andrews explained. "They have good athletes, good speed and good backs. They use more than one back and they have two quarterbacks that can play. They have receivers that can get up the field vertically, catch the ball and make big plays with the ball in their hands.

"I'd say that as a receiving corps, they are probably the fastest group of receivers we've seen, which could be tough because you cannot just focus on one receiver stretching the field," he explained. "They have three or four receivers who can push you vertically."

From listening to Andrews, it certainly sounds as though the Tigers are more than capable of putting points on the board themselves. And given his hunch about the West Virginia offense, perhaps that anticipated defensive struggle will turn out to be a Thursday night shootout.

In any event, Andrews and the defense vow to be ready.

"If this does become a defensive game, though, I hope that we just strap it up and just go all night," he concluded. "We're just going to go out and play ball."

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