MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Today continues a position-by-position examination of where the West Virginia football team stands after spring practice.

The eight-day video series scours the two-deep as the Mountaineers seek to rebound from last season’s 4-8 finish.


Tuesday, April 15
 Defensive line: Can no-name group hold the front?
Wednesday, April 16
 Linebackers: Will they be nasty or negligible?
Thursday, April 17
 Secondary: Trying to reverse two dreadful years of pass defense
Friday, April 18
 Special teams: Aiming to be really special in 2014?
Monday, April 21
 Offensive line: Are the Mountaineers vulnerable up front?
Tuesday, April 22
 Receivers: Can they get their swagger back?
Wednesday, April 23
 Running backs: Is this the best unit in the Big 12?
Thursday, April 24
 Quarterbacks: Can any of the current QBs win eight games?


Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

West Virginia’s K.J. Dillon celebrated forcing a Texas interception, but his body seized up after the overtime loss and he missed the final two games of the season.


When K.J. Dillon first walked into the WVU team room at the outset of spring practice, reporters did a double-take. A stringy 180-pounder the last time he saw the field against Texas in November—a game that ended his season by resulting in a scary trip to the ICU for severe dehydration—Dillon now reported at a buffed-up 207 pounds.

The junior safety clearly made the most of his offseason workouts: “I’ve bounced back by getting my body right, my mind right.”

The mind part was perhaps more important than the muscle.

“He has been very disruptive on defense and more disciplined,” said Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen. “He’s always been disruptive on defense, but sometimes it was more disruptive for himself or me than he has opposing offenses.”

Though listed as the first-teamer at Spur linebacker, Dillon’s essentially a third safety tasked with covering slot receivers and mixing in edge blitzes.

Projected starters: Left cornerback Icky Banks (6-0, 180, redshirt senior) has made 16 career starts, while right corner Daryl Worley (6-1, 200, sophomore) appears poised for a breakout season. Strong safety Karl Joseph (5-10, 194, junior) has started all 25 career games and developed a reputation for being the league’s most punishing tacklers. At free safety, Jeremy Tyler (5-11, 202, sophomore) has a slim edge over Ricky Rumph (5-11, 181, junior). Then there’s Dillon, (6-1, 207, junior), playing the hybrid Spur/nickel back spot.

Backups: Terrell Chestnut (5-10, 185, junior) is behind Banks, while small-but-savvy junior college transfer Keishawn Richardson (5-9, 166) makes quite a contrast behind Worley. Jarrod Harper (6-0, 208, redshirt sophomore) has improved but he’ll likely have to settle for working on special teams, because Joseph never seems to take a play off. Behind Dillon are rangy sophomore Marvin Gross (6-4, 194), redshirt freshman Malik Greaves (6-2, 208) and Dayron Wilson (5-11, 202, redshirt junior).

Watch the video at the top of the page for player highlights and to learn how Allan Taylor and Justin Hoff grade the secondary after spring practice.

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  • Robin

    Unless they learn to look for the ball when the receiver looks they are not going to get any better. That is coaching plain and simple.

  • Georgianeeer

    Most Big 12 teams play most of the game with three or four receivers, right? So don't we have to have at least three corners to cover them for most of the game? I am really interested in who will be the nickel corner. Richardson seems like he will make a name for himself here.
    By the way, I am new to Metro News. Very informative, and the fewest number of trolls and personal attackers I have ever seen on a comments site. Refreshing.

  • cutty77

    WVU will have a Good Team this year,but must find a Decent QB. Trickett is not the answer for sure,and i have said this from Day one. Here is my Picks. Millard 1 right now,and then the Moore Kid 2 Trickett 3 at best.

    • Burke

      The system Shannon Dawson incorporates to prepare quarterbacks is a substandard one. For the past season (including the spring) we've had the same recurring issue regarding a lack of communication between the QB's and the rest of the offense. When Jake Spavital was guiding the QB's, and Dana coordinating the offense, the offense ran relatively smooth. Ever since Dawson was assigned dual responsibilities the offense has struggled, particularly the QB position. Don't look to the QB, look to his guidance

      • RS

        After seeing the spring game, I think Trickett is still our best answer at QB (unless one of the other 3 can improve dramatically by August). Ideally, I'd like to see William Crest be a prodigy at learning the offense and get the start, but that's highly doubtful for any kid who's jumping into the offense in August.

  • Tim C

    If we don't bump the receivers off the line and generate a pass rush, we will get torched again this year. Cover 2 doesn't get the job done against these spread offenses. If the spring game is any indication of what we are like in the fall, then we are in some trouble.

  • TruthTeller

    You guys should observe Ohio State University talk shows. Those people have nothing but positive things to say and they don't tear down everything and make it sound like they don't have a chance against a high school team like you guys do. I don't know if you have even paid attention but the Big 12 is a very pass happy conference. WVU coming from the Big East was used to a balance of run and pass. Of coarse the pass defense will suffer for a couple of years. The best passing teams are in the Big 12. I think WVU will be a better team this year than it has been for the last two years. I used to like going on this web site but it is nothing but a rain storm of hate against WVU. Marshall can't hold a candle to WVU and it never will.
    Get over it and act like men not little boys.

    • Jon

      If Ohio State went 11-14 over a two year span, they would be upset as well.

    • Mike

      Did you listen to Ohio State talk shows when they had a pre-Urban Meyer losing season? There wasn't much nice said. Kind of like WVU losing seasons now. Teams win and fans get a whole lot nicer. Some negative criticism is deserved, by the coach, team and administration.

    • 4WVUinKY

      Yeah, what he said.

    • Dave

      Truth !!!!!!

  • notorious

    If the opposing QB has a functional throwing arm, he's guaranteed to throw for at least 250 against this bunch.

    Can't wait to see open receivers running all over our defense AGAIN this year!

    • datawbob

      Why would you say that?I You are not a WVU fan.I don't think you have ever played football.The team will be a lot better.Bank on it.

      • Mike

        A WVU fan that is skeptical about a winning season, is STILL a Mountaineer fan. All of you that think every fan has to be a "Pollyanna" with blind optimism are nothing short of foolish.

    • Dave

      If that's what you want to see, then you're not much of a Mountaineer fan. I can't wait to see how much progress the defense will have made.

      • notorious

        Two years in a row they've gotten torched. A year older doesn't always = a year better. A lot of you act like WVU will be the only team in the league improving. Those other guys will be better too. You know, the guys that have owned us the past two years.

        Three years in the league and we will still be blaming our failures on youth, lack of depth, and our "new" league.

        • TruthTeller

          notorious you are notoriously stupid for sure. Have you ever even played sports at all? Did you know that WVU changed conferences with more talented passing teams than in the Big East? It takes time to adjust to a conference with some of the most talented athletes in America. The only conference that is better is the SEC. This is not an EA Sports video game. This is real life. WVU
          is trying to fix the issues. Its takes time to adjust playing against more talented teams. Look at what happened to Miami and Boston College when they switched conferences. It takes time.

          • Mike

            A good team, and a good program, can, and should win in ANY league. The Big 12 excuses are a bunch of crap.

  • mad hatter

    i think it maybe one yr too soon to judge the secondary, as they aren't the most talented players , but in time , with good coaching they will be ok.
    i seriously think we are back to the point where every three or four yrs we have a good team, not great, and then we fall back, and rebuild.
    Now this all could change if we continue to recruit like the 2015 class and get them signed.
    But right now , since we have average players, it takes longer to teach them and get them in the fold...

  • Rich

    Fair or unfair the secondary holds the key to us having a winning or losing season. After watching us the last two years in the spread, pass-happy Big 12 these guys HAVE to be good. You can have a good secondary/defense and still give up 17-21 pts/game. A good secondary can neutralize these hi-powered offenses, create TOs, get us off the field on 3rd down and make it so our offense doesn't have to score as much

    • mad hatter

      i think you're overlooking the face that our front 3 on def. have to perform lots better, then that could help the def... with not pass rush, the secondary is put in a heck of a position trying to def. for such a long time.
      It's just not fair to them to place the pressure on the sec. as it surely is a team effort.

      • Rich

        I don't disagree with you on the pass rush but in these spread offenses when the QB is in the pistil/shotgun or they take 3 step drops and get rid of the ball it's almost next to impossible to generate a pass rush w/o blitzing. That means our coverage schemes must change to eliminate the 8-10 yard cushions (never understood that), our CBs need to be a lot more aggressive and they have to tackle better to eliminate the yards after the catch. Against some of these Big 12 offenses I think it might be better to just flood the coverage with 8-9 defenders and rush 2-3 to try and confuse the QBs. QBs want to throw the football, the longer they hang on to it they get more antcy and try to force throws.

  • 1olewvufan

    sometimes I hate auto correct.
    it should be filled not field.

  • 1olewvufan

    Allen, I really enjoy your write ups, and I believe you and Justin are pretty much with your grading of the defensive positions. One caveat to could be addition of freshman Davonte James, who could play DE.

    During the open spring practices I did see either some bad reads or gaps not being field creating some huge holes for receivers to get in to make some easy catches.

    Like you, I do believe there is a lot of work to do between now and the season opener.

  • Rick55

    Any secondary is only as good as the o-line/linebackers in front of them. If we can get decent pressure on the QB, this secondary will be just fine. QBs who are allowed to stand in the backfield and pick out receivers will burn this secondary and there will be a lot of wide-open receivers.

  • FNP

    If there's a push rush then this group will create along of havoc in the secondary. Look for some big time plays this year from these kids.

    • FNP

      *Pass* *Alot*

      Obviously i cant type today

  • ole sasquatch

    Dreadful is probably the right word. Time after time over the last 2 yrs. we've seen teams take to the air when they get behind against us and move rather effortless down the field. However, there was never enough blitzing in the first half and our big guys up front just are not built to go full steam for a full game and of course they get tired which don't help the secondary when the QB can take his time. Let's hope we can have better common-sense management this yr. so our defense works in unison and they can get off the field after third down.