MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s defensive front will have a different look against Georgia State.
Sophomore Eric Kinsey, after starting two games at defensive end and also playing nose tackle in passing situations, will rotate to the Buck outside linebacker behind starter Brandon Golson.
Along with playing upright and dropping into pass coverage, Kinsey’s most important adjustment to Buck involves setting the defense and taking charge of the pre-snap calls.
“It takes a special person and Kinsey has got a few things going for him,” defensive line coach Erik Slaughter said. “He is big, smart and athletic, so he is able to play multiple positions and know what he is doing.”
With Kinsey on the move, sophomore Kyle Rose will make his second career start at defensive end.
Kinsey shifted to the Buck position against Oklahoma to give WVU a bigger presence on the perimeter to stop the run. He finished the game with three tackles, including one for a loss.
“It was shocking when my number got called,” Kinsey said. “But I felt comfortable out there, it felt natural and I’m going to continue to work on it.”
Encouraged to gain weight last year in order to play on the defensive line, Kinsey has grown to 265 pounds—42 heavier than Golson. He’ll instantly become one of the biggest outside linebackers in the Big 12.
“I feel like I’m still pretty athletic and I can move a lot,” said Kinsey. “Maybe not as fast as guys like Brandon, but I feel like I can move.”
Ever since the former backup at Buck, senior Dozie Ezemma, suffered a season-ending broken leg against William & Mary, Slaughter has been mulling the move.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about, because it’s nice to have a 6-3, 265-pound guy on the boundary to stop the run,” Slaughter said. “We will keep it in our pocket in case we run into a team who wants to pound the run on us.”
Rose turned a solid game against Oklahoma with four tackles, including two for loss. After playing tackle and nose, he’ll now focus more on the defensive end spot.
“Each position goes hand-in-hand, but being able to focus on one position helps, because you can learn the speed on the outside, compared to the inside,” Rose said.
The defense has been a bright spot for the Mountaineers through two weeks, allowing 16.5 points per game. That’s nearly 22 points better than last season, when WVU ranked 114th out of 120 FBS teams in scoring defense. But the players and coaches said they’re not satisfied.
“I’ve seen what I’ve been seeing since January, I saw a bunch of committed guys who are ready to fight,” Slaughter said. “We are making progress; but we are not trying to be good, we are trying to be great.”
— CJ Ricker contributed to this report