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West Virginia - Defensive Preview

Kansas travels to Morgantown on Saturday to face the 2-2 Mountaineers. Can Kansas’ offense find some continuity against a very forgiving W.V. defense?

Justin K. Aller


West Virginia will enter Saturday with the 92nd ranked FEI defense giving up nearly 40 points per game to FBS opponents on the season. The Mountaineers defense is loaded with seniors and juniors but only returns two players who started every game last season. The lack of experience leaves the bend-but-don’t-break philosophy of DC Tony Gibson. Gibson is the one of the latest DB coaches to be hired as a DC in what is a trendy formula of head coaches modeling the back-to-front mentality that championship-level teams have taken lately (FSU, Bama….).

However, Gibson has some work to do. His defense is currently 121st in the nation against the run, giving up a staggering 6.2 yards per rush. In addition the pass rush has been virtually ineffective with a measly 1.94% sack rate (122nd).

The West Virginia secondary is young but talented and will have senior CB Ishmael Banks (academic suspension) back on Saturday. His return came just in time as CB Daryl Worley, who leads the team in interceptions will be out with continuing legal trouble. S Karl Joseph leads the team in tackles and is exceptional at getting to the ball.

WV has failed to get a stop in redzone situations as opponents have scored on each trip inside the 20 this season. Add to that a defense averaging exactly 1.0 takeaway per game and it becomes clear that WV‘s objective is to outscore opponents and do just enough on defense to keep the game close.


WV’s special teams have been mediocre this season with a lone bright spot in the Alabama game as senior WR Mario Alford returned a 100-yard kick for a TD. K Mike Molinari averages less than 40% touchbacks while P Nick O’Toole averages 42.2 yards per punt.


Along with Joseph, keep an eye on senior LB Brandon Golson who has proven to be a disruptive presence with 5.5 sacks, 9.0 tackles for loss and 62 tackles in 16 career games.


  • KU Offensive Efficiency – At least 5.6 yards/play before garbage time (280 yards on 50 plays, 336 yards on 60 plays, 392 yards on 70 plays).
  • KU Turnovers - No more than one turnover in this contest.
  • KU Redzone Efficiency – 30% touchdowns on all redzone trips.


Let's take a look back at the goals from last week's game. The game was over John Harris found the endzone with 3:52 seconds remaining in the 4th.

  • (Offensive efficiency goal, 4.6 yards/play). Actual – 3.9 yards/play. Failed miserably.
  • (Turnover goal, less than 2). Actual – 4 turnovers. …ummm…Fail
  • (Redzone efficiency, one redzone TD). Actual - 0. Kansas failed to score a single point in two redzone opportunities.

I'll check back next week to review the goals for West Virginia and preview Oklahoma State.