MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While the departures of Shaq Rowell and Will Clarke left holes in West Virginia’s defensive line, spring is about renewal and replenishment, and defensive coaches hope new leaders are developing.

“We have to get where we can play six or seven defensive linemen. That’s our goal right now and we are starting to build and create depth,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said after Saturday’s scrimmage in Charleston.

The starting three-man front currently projects to be Kyle Rose and Dontrill Hyman at the tackle/end spots, with Christian Brown manning the nose. That group also has been the subject of some experimentation, with Brown lining up at tackle and end Saturday to allow second-teamer Darrien Howard more reps at nose.

Eric Kinsey and Noble Nwachukwu are the other linemen working with the No. 2 unit.

Ben Queen/Metronews photo

As a sophomore, Kyle Rose made 49 tackles, tying for the lead among WVU’s defensive linemen.

“Everyday we get a little better,” Rose said. “I think from here to (the March 22 practice in) Wheeling, we look 100 times better. We are flying around, not a lot of busted assignments.”

The quick acclimation to coaching whiz Tom Bradley has the defensive line undergoing changes.

“I’ve had the opportunity to watch and get to know my players a little bit more,” said Bradley, the longtime Penn State assistant who was hired Feb. 19, about a week before the start of WVU’s spring drills. “After 11 practices, obviously we have a lot of work to do, but we’re on schedule.”

Hyman, the only senior among the top six defensive linemen, has the highest ceiling but didn’t deliver on that potential last season, making only 18 tackles in 12 games. Brown suffered a weight room injury and missed the last eight weeks, which essentially led to Howard losing a redshirt year by playing in the last four games.

Kinsey (15 tackles in 10 games) and Nwachukwu (five stops in nine games) had bright moments, just not nearly enough of them.

The most productive returnee by far is the junior Rose, who matched Clarke with a unit-best 49 tackles. He’s hoping to make a bigger impact under Bradley’s tutelage.

“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime coach, after coaching that many guys in the NFL and having 30 or 40 years of coaching experience,” Rose said. “I hope I don’t offend him because I don’t know how old he is.

“He’s just a natural leader. He’s doesn’t get mad at you too much, but you can tell when he does get mad that he means business. He’s a great addition to us.”

There’s always the need for more sacks, especially for a defense that registered only 16 last season, tying it for 107th nationally out of 123 FBS teams. The only power-conference defenses that reached the quarterback less were Illinois (15), Iowa State (14) and Purdue (14).

While most of the pressure projects to come from edge-rushing linebackers like Brandon Golson and Edward Muldrow and back-end blitzers from the safety and nickel spots, Bradley wants his front-line guys generating a push too. Brown and Rose made sacks in Saturday’s scrimmage while working against the first-team offensive line.

“The first group, I thought did very well,” Bradley said. “The second group, there was some things that came up, and it always comes down to missed tackles and leverage on the ball.

“I think the next three days and how we finish spring … will be a very important week of practice for us.”

The Mountaineers conclude spring drills with the Gold-Blue game on Saturday at Mountaineer Field. The current group of linemen figures to be the complete mix come fall, with incoming freshmen Jaleel Fields and Tyree Owens projected to redshirt.

“We are in flashes—they’re up and down with it right now,” Gibson said. “Obviously we have a ton of work to do, but I like our progression and where we’re at.”

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Comments

  • bus griffith

    Do the math. RichRod minus Jeff Casteel equals zero. Dana Holgorsen minus Jeff Casteel equals zero. Dana's biggest mistake was bringing in Joe DeWorthless, at $600,000 a year, to be Co-Defensive Coordinator. This is why Coach Casteel defected to Arizona for less money. Oliver Luck's biggest mistake was allowing this to happen. Ollie's second big mistake was not hiring Bobby Petrino before Louisville did.

  • Joe

    Paul Millard will be the starting QB for 2014. Mark my words.

    • FNP

      He knows the offense a lot better but he doesn't have the footwork.

      IMO they should've just let Paul have the spot last year from the beginning and then he would've had a year under his belt.

      But like i said, the footwork is awful.

  • Mountaineer Matt

    Totally optimistic about an improved team this season. Bradley was a great pick up and it seems the overall atmosphere of the program is the best it's been since the Nehlen days. Holgorsen seems to be coming around and appears to be headed to a succefull head coaching career. Reading all these post is really entertaining wonder how there's not more coaches around the country from West Virginia, oh that's right they're all here posting, to busy to actually get a coaching job. At the end of the day all we can do is listen to the coaches and take their word for the state of the team, after all they are the ones with actual coaching experience and the ones who are actually around these young men everyday. Looking forward to the Alabama game so we can see what we got. Mountaineers!

  • Dave

    Is it Holgorson or is it Holgersen or is it Holgorsen or is it Holgerson? How in the world are some of you people to be taken seriously when you can't even spell the head coaches name correctly and he's been at WVU for 4 years?
    It's H-O-L-G-O-R-S-E-N !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I bet most of you can spell Dock Holaday's name right.

  • Rick55

    My biggest problem with Holgorson at this point is is recruitment of the QB position, namely Millard, Childress. Trickett would have come to WVU regardless of who the HC was and Crest and Howard? Freshman and Juco.
    Wasn't DH supposed to be a boy genius on offense? I suppose he could be forgiven for his apparent total ignorance about defense and special teams or even o-line stuff but his lack of Qb recruiting is baffling. I suppose he sees it too difficult to recruit Texas and Oklahoma qbs to WVU based on his presser the other day, when he whined about how much harder it was to find good east coast qbs! Really? How'd those Texas qbs work out for ya? Look, nothing would make this fan happier than having Millard or anyone else work out, but why was DH in this situation anyway. If anyone could recruit a top-of-the-line AB it should have been him, right? Love the Mounties and I only criticize 'cause I care.

  • hailey

    Wake up mad willie..... if Holgerson fails this year he will be fired, Coach Bradley will step in and take over the reigns and most assistants will be retained. That is how it will go down, count on it.

  • WVU FAN

    I like what I see & hear from Tom Bradley....

    I hope the players have fun this spring game as well but most of all I hope that the leaders on this team will hold players accountable if they aren't were they need to be and the Blue & Gold game looks like a bunch of young men wanting to play football at the highest level for WVU & teammates.
    For me one of the best ways to judge a team is to see how the second & third string players are pushing for playing time... I would like to see some hungry players competing for playing time on the field to take WVU to a National Championship.

    We need club house leaders to lead this team!!!

    I like what I hear and see from Dustin Garrison, he is a leader

  • jay zoom

    Mad hatter -- I agree with you. 3-4 before we even get recoginized in the big 12. most of the conference is thinking (WELCOME FISH) 4-8 THANKS OLLIE

    • matt

      Hey ZOOM, did you really think for a second we would walk into the 12 and own it? We did not even own the little east the last couple of years we were in it. If you remember correctly the last year we were in the little east we lost to Louisville and Syracuse in conference and got spanked by LSU out of conference. We earned a share of the Big East Conference Championship with Cincinnati and Louisville.In 2010 we lost to Syracuse and U CON,LSU ( NC STATE in Bowl game)The 12 is a huge step up in talent, a step we had too take. Remember fans we almost got into the SEC, what a mess that would have been! We did what had to be done to remain relevant.Holgorsen is a great coach, he will show it when he has the talent to succeed, Luck knows this, that is why he got the big contract and he is still HC.
      Stay faithful everyone the good guys will be showing signs of greatness soon!

      • Leonard Williams

        I agree, BIG 12 is a whole lot better competition than we ever had in BIG least since Miami left for ACC.
        People need to have patience with Coaching Staff. A man put wrote in a peice in our local newspaper about how patience has paid off for Baylor. The whole fan base wanted to can Art Briles real quick after he came to the school in 2007. His record since he arrived is, 2007 was 3-9, 2008 was 4-8 (no bowl game), 2009 was 4-8 (no bowl Game), 2010 was 7-5 (lost bowl game, final tally 7-6). Then it started to get better, 2011 was 9-3 (won bowl game, final tally 10-3), 2012 was 7-5 (won bowl game, final tally 8-5), and then in 2013 Baylor 11-1 lost their bowl game but still ended up with a final tally of 11-2.
        So as you can see it took Coach Briles 4 years to show improvement and 5 to start "Kicking ASS".
        So please be patient, as it can pay off in the "LONG RUN".

  • mad hatter

    folks , get it thru your heads, holgie won't be fired,,, if luck fires him, then it makes it look like he made a huge mistake hiring him...

    plus, it's just way too costly,, i mean multi millions, when you consider paying off holgie, and his assistants, and hire new coaches.

    he's be at wvu thru 2016 for sure... count on it.

  • JT

    Hiring Bradley...eh. The whole Penn St thing is creepy. Those people are certifiable up there.

    I don't get why so many want him to be head coach. He has been an assistant for 35 years for a reason.

    • rekterx

      Hmmmmmmm.

      Have you noted which state leads the nation in neurotic behavior? You might want to keep that in consideration when talking about people being certifiable.

      http://time.com/7612/americas-mood-map-an-interactive-guide-to-the-united-states-of-attitude/

  • FNP

    Have some class people and keep it clean in here. Tom Bradley is a class act and if you think for one minute he condoned or participated in any wrongdoing at Penn State then you're wrong.

    Keep it classy and keep the comments geared towards football and the team.

  • mad hatter

    i hate to say it, but we're at least three yrs from competing in the big 12.
    Holgerson and his inital assistants, set back recruiting maybe 5 yrs..we've managed to get rid of most of them and next is dawson, and deforest.
    at this stage , just maybe, Bradley can get our def. in line to compete.
    But offensively, dawson and holgerson, in four yrs. have yet to put a div. 1 qb on the field, right now we've taken someone elses leftovers.. kinda like huggins.
    I am losing faith in holg. as a HC. He can't seem to indentify talent so the qb controversary continues.
    With no legit first string qb. we are yrs. away.
    If crest is that man, Let's start him this fall, at least 6 or 7 games, IMO , we are desperate.

    • Jim

      Recruiting has gone forward, not back (5 years). RIP Bill Stewart, but he didn't recruit with the B12 in mind. It's like going from paper plates to china now. A complete rebuild. Holgs & staff have/are doing this. We do need a QB to be identified. I think Howard just has jitters but will work through it. Like you, I'm hoping Crest can impress in the Summer.

    • GoEers

      WVU's 2015 recruiting class is currently ranked 6th...I know that upsets you mad hater, but please at least somewhat know what you are talking about if you plan on posting on every WVU article.

    • Troll

      MH you don't have a clue what your talking about, recruiting has been better than ever since Holgorsen has taken over. To begin with you can't even spell his name correctly. With the exception of quarterback WVU now has more depth and better talent than it has for years. When you, bore-z (whatever he goes by) and a few other get clue what's really happening with WVU football come on back and talk. As of now you guys have nothing to add to any post just the same stupid dribble over and over.

      • Drew

        Calls people stupid.
        Uses your instead of you're.

        • Troll

          I made a mistake with my spelling, you seemed to have made a mistake with your reading, I don't recall using the word stupid anywhere in the post. More of the same, read something then just start rattling off without regards to what is actually written.

    • Aaron

      "Holgerson and his inital assistants, set back recruiting maybe 5 yrs"

      How so? From last years team of which the Jr's and Sr's recruited by the previous coaching staff, only 3 were on the 2 deep depth chart. Most recruiting experts believe the cupboard was left bare, thus the reason for so many young players starting the past 3 years.

      • Ike

        Recruiting top athletes basically stopped when Rich went to Michigan. Some of his top recruits went elsewhere, some went with him and we got a few others. Stewart was a good guy, but his success came from previous years work. A full class was never recruited and yes the cupboards were thin. Dana and coaches are getting restocked and there is more talent on this roster than there has been in a long time. I see a bright future if we the fans can be patient enough.

        • farm kid

          AMEN ike stew did not use all of his practices before the FSU bowl game. he kept devine out of second haft too. Pastlong created all this chaos.

      • Allen

        Sorry Aaron but I disagree with your assessment of Holgorson setting recruiting back 5 years. Cupboard was left bare and the team has fought with depth issues due to previous staff. Like it r not Stew blew it with depth.

        • farm kid

          stew left DH one qb now he has 8. DH was left about 65 scholarship players, that is 20 under limit. that orange bowl team was RR'S boys. this is something no one is speaking about TCU came into the Big 12 at the same time WVU arrived. after two years the wins lost records are the same. if WVU had a kicker we would be 2 and 0 against TCU.

        • Aaron

          Note the quotations Allen, then read the comment by me and finally read the comment to which I responded. If you do, you will see that the assessment is not mine.

          • Aaron

            You are the one claiming the current coaching staff has "hattered" recruiting and not the previous. Can you not explain hatter.

          • mad hatter

            aaron, why is it that you are always so mixed up on the page?
            mama needs to take you by the hand , and put you back to bed.

    • Kebo

      Dawson is a helluva coach. He needs to stay as long as possible. You can see it at practices (in Wheeling & Charleston) that he is very involved with the players, gets along great wth them and is young enough to relate to them. Defo on the other hand, while he does seem to coach hard, needs to stick with special teams. And his salary needs decreased to about $150,000 at least. Special teams did take a step forward last year, especially the kicking game, i will give him that......he just doesn't deserve quite the paycheck he is collecting..

  • Mister Man

    I think things will improve greatly this year.

  • Chef Camille

    Give the guy a break. We should realize he just landed and he needs to assess his talent. The guy has coached at the highest level in collegiate sports.

  • wvrefugee

    What else is he going to say 2 months into a half million dollar salary??????? Watch your little ones this summer!

    • GoEers

      what a sad human being you are..you no good jealous marshall loser!!

    • richard

      wvrefugee is an idiot!! why would your filthy mouth say such a thing. you're a sick-o! takes one to know one you piece of filth. metronews is just as bad for printing what he wrote. i hope bradley sues metronews for slander by letting what wvrefugee said, be printed!!

      • farm kid

        "scarp" should slap the snot of that pinhead wvrefugee. what a jerk.

    • Wow

      From you or coach Bradley? I don't believe
      He was involved in that, you jerk.

      • Mister Man

        The comment was removed.

        • richard

          good, it should have been removed. can't believe it was printed in the first place. this site needs to be better monitored.