Back To The Future

Past and present defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich doesn't think there will be a great deal of difference when he hops back into the saddle as West Virginia's defensive line coach after a two year absence.

"I don't see many differences in how I'll coach or what I'll be doing," the voluble Kirelawich told on Friday evening. "The familiarity I have with the program, knowing the kids, the coaches and the system, will make things a lot easier."

"Kirlav" knows that there will be a few adjustments, but the basics, including many of the techniques he teaches to his defensive linemen, will stay the same.

"I'll have to feel my way around a little bit, but that probably won't take me more than a couple of days," an eager Kirelawich said. "Once that's done, I think I'll be ready to go.

"Anyone who knows me and knows how I coach knows that I emphasize hand play. Those techniques are the same, no matter what defense you are running."

Kirelawich won't be coming back to the same defensive front or scheme that he left, but he sees similarities between the current odd stack and the 50 fronts that were the hallmark of many of the defenses he coached in.

"As far as what the current staff is doing, it's different, but there are a lot of tie ins to what we did in the past. Again, I don't forsee any big problems with it."

Kirelawich is already close to the team, having served as the football academic advisor over the past two seasons. In that capacity, he's maintained his close relationship with the squad, and thinks the creation of the position was an excellent one from more than one standpoint.

"I thought it was a stroke of genius on Eddie (Pastilong's) and Rich (Rodriguez') part to come up with an academic guy. I wish we had someone doing that before. I think that a football team, with the number of players they have, really needs it."

Due to his two years in that role, Kirelawich won't have much to do in the "get acquainted" phase that most new coaches must go through. He should be able to hit the ground running, and that's good for West Virginia, as spring practice is just a couple of weeks away.

"Just like all springs, the focus is to find my first three and second three," Kirelawich said of his spring practice goals. "We'll identify those six guys and go from there."

Evne though Kirelawich hasn't watched much film over the past couple of years, he's still familiar with the players he'll be coaching. He says he still hasn't learned to watch the ball - the habits as a defensive line coach just don't disappear. So, he has an idea of what some of his defensive linemen are doing.

"I always catch myself looking at blocking schemes and trying to see what was going on inside," Kirelawich said of his game viewing habits. "You never change in what you are looking at. I'm still not watching the ball, I'm watching the guys blocking, and how the defense is reacting."

Once a coach, always a coach, it seems, and Kirelawich, who said he is anxious to get started, can't wait to get back on the field and put those long years of experience to use.

He hasn't had the chance to talk to his players yet, as most have departed for spring break.

"They could have named St. Peter the defensive line coach and they would still have been smoking out of here," Kirelawich said with a laugh.

Soon enough, those players will be reunited with that gravelly drill instructor's voice, and the intense, yet caring, personality behind it. Kirelawich will be back in his natural element, and those individuals who play for him will learn what a generation of former Mountaineers already know - there's no better man to have on your side, or on your sideline, than Kirlav.

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