""It was liberating to go out there with your teammates and contribute," said Ovid Goulbourne, who recorded four tackles in the season opener against Liberty. "I played on special teams and I like contributing that way but being out there in game situations is a lot of fun."
If that performance was fun, then his showing in the season's second game against East Carolina must have been downright joyous. In WVU's 35-20 win, Goulbourne had another solid defensive performance, recording five tackles and two sacks to go along with a pass break-up. One of Goulbourne's two sacks was particularly impressive.
"I was breaking the goal rush and I tried to turn the corner," said Goulbourne. "I was able to turn the corner and get to the quarterback. It felt really good so I was happy." On the play, Goulbourne steamed around ECU's left end and blindsided quarterback Patrick Pinkney on third down to force a Pirate punt. It was another highlight in a stellar second half for the defense, which shut ECU out over the final 30 minutes. And it did so without two of its top members.
Despite losing numerous players to injury, the defense seemed to gel nicely against East Carolina. With neither senior linebacker Reed Williams nor junior defensive lineman Scooter Berry seeing time on the field in the second half, WVU was able to adjust and find backups that filled their roles well. Head coach Bill Stewart continues to term both "day-to-day" so the defense is adjusting to the possibility that it may play the Auburn game without two of its stars.
"I'm not sure [what adjustments will be made without Williams and Berry],"admitted Goulbourne. "I am not the one that makes those adjustments. I just try to play as fast as possible and the rest of the guys try to play as fast as possible. We shouldn't really miss a beat because that what you take reps for and rotate other guys in."
As a linebacker, Goulbourne sees how the loss of veteran Williams could directly affect him.
"We're going to lose a little bit when a captain going down," admitted Goulbourne. "He's not a captain for no reason." However, after playing without Williams for the majority of last season, the linebackers are used to stepping in, and have the ability to fill the big shoes left by him. Najee Goode and Anthony Leonard both have game experience, and Goulbourne, who has found a role on WVU's third down pass defense, has also now shown he can be counted upon.
"All of the guys at the linebacker position, they are all pretty talented," said Goulbourne. "They all can run. We shouldn't really miss a beat with anyone going down. We all get equal reps in practice."
Williams plays the middle linebacker spot, where Goode and Leonard back him up, while Goulbourne is an outside backer. There, he has to compete with the likes of J.T. Thomas for time. He knows, however, that a call to more duty is only one snap away, even while the competition is not easy.
"That's what coming here and being part of the Mountaineer family is all about," said Goulbourne. "You compete every day and show what you're about and then they put the best guy on the field."