The influence of new West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson is already being felt.
Gibson hasn’t made major changes after being promoted from safeties coach in February. The Mountaineers will remain in a 3-4 system, as continuity is the focus in Morgantown. With the Mountaineers having their fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons, head coach Dana Holgorsen wants his defense to remain versatile and multiple, largely because that’s the type of system that gives his offense the most trouble.
“It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I’ve been here,” Holgorsen said. “The reason I run an odd defense is because it can be very multiple. If you’re a four-down (lineman) defense, you can’t be multiple. If you’re a three-down defense, an odd defense, you can be multiple. I have to look at what gives us problems, because a lot of teams in the Big 12 have similar defenses. The thing that gives us the most trouble is an odd defense, so that’s what we’re going to do. It will give us a bunch of different looks.”
The 3-4 system, or odd-man front, is nothing new, but Gibson has been pushing to make things easier on the players and allow their talent to shine without confusion.
“Last year, it was too multiple,” Holgorsen said. “It was still an odd defense, but we were doing too many different things. The one thing Tony has done a good job with is getting it a little more simplified. When we run offensive plays, watch the defense line up. I’ve been really impressed with how quick they line up. We face so many high-tempo offenses that we need to be able to do that. I think they’re doing an excellent job with that right now.”
High-tempo offenses, like Texas Tech and Baylor, feast on the chaos and confusion created by their up-tempo attacks so the Mountaineers are focusing on making sure they can match the quickness of any offense while remaining fundamentally sound on defense.
“You have to remain simple and sound with it,” Holgorsen said. “We don’t want to trick anybody with what we’re doing, but we want to be able to line up quick and bring a lot of different looks to the table.”