Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia safeties K.J. Dillon and Karl Joseph (8) sandwiched Oklahoma State receiver David Glidden last season.

MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — Returning from an ankle injury that precluded him from practicing the first 10 days of camp, nickel back K.J. Dillon said he has plenty of time to prepare for the season opener against Alabama on Aug. 30.

“I’m full-go,” he said. “I’m all-in.”

Dillon’s absence allowed junior walk-on Dayron Wilson to flourish so much he earned a scholarship, and it also gave first-team reps to Pitt graduate transfer Cullen Christian.

“They’ve been doing a good job and filling in while I was gone,” Dillon said. “We’ve got so much depth, anybody can call themselves a starter. Those guys, when I was absent, definitely stepped in and did a good job.”

Dillon’s position, technically identified as the Spur linebacker, is crucial because he must serve as a blitzer, a run-stopper against heavier blockers and a cover guy capable of matching up on short and deep routes.

Apparently, Dillon also is the loudest dude in the secondary, said safety Karl Joseph: “He’s the guy who gets everybody riled up.”

Joseph owns a well-deserved reputation as one of the Big 12’s toughest thumpers, a guy whose collisions injured two of his own teammates last season. Despite the scrutiny placed on targeting, however, he wasn’t flagged for any illegal hits.

“I don’t think it changed my game, but I always had that doubt in the back of my mind,” he said. “If the receiver was going up, I might not be able to hit him like I want to. I might have to slow down a little bit.”

With the disqualification penalty entering its second year, Joseph said he’s better acclimated to delivering hits without hesitating.

“I feel like I’m more comfortable so I know what’s allowed and what’s not,” he said. “I have a better understanding of where to attack receivers.”

While freshman Dravon Henry’s eager-beaver approach to camp earned instant respect from teammates, his thirst for hopping to the front of the line in every drill might need to be tempered.

“I talked to him about that,” said sophomore cornerback Daryl Worley. “I just told him you might have to hold back a little bit. You don’t want to burn yourself out when you’re getting started.”

At 232 pounds, Isaiah Bruce has 20 pounds and two seasons of Big 12 experience over Edward Muldrow, the player with whom he’s splitting reps at Sam linebacker.

But because Muldrow has a wide edge in speed, it’s likely the pair will be deployed in a situational platoon.

“Ed’s probably a better pass rusher than me because he’s extremely quick,” Bruce said. “He’s one of the quickest guys on the team, and that’s including offense, in my opinion. Me, I can see things faster because I’ve been here for a while. I can see things before they happen.”

Bruce hasn’t hid his elation over being back at a middle linebacker spot, where two years ago he made 94 tackles and earned freshman All-American honors. Yet he feels the slender Muldrow can hold up surprisingly well against bigger linemen.

“Ed might not look it, but he’s extremely strong,” Bruce said. “He switches it up to keep the O-line guessing a lot. Sometimes he’ll go in and hit them extremely hard, and the next time they come a little softer and he’ll just slip (past) them. He has the O-line on their heels a lot.”

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  • nashville cat

    i think we're building, and building a fairly good program,,, we need more coaches with the experience of bradley, someone who has been around a while,,
    dana is still a pup when it comes to being the HC.
    he's immature, and inexperienced for the most part.
    He goes for it when he should punt, and punts when he should go for it,,, course who am i to judge.
    i see next yr the beginning of the turnaround, if we continue to improve recruiting,,,i just have my doubts is dana will be here in two yrs.

  • any major dude

    You play defense against UA the same way you play against anyone.
    Wrap em up and tackle like you mean it.
    Hit em really hard.
    When possible, tackle the ball, rip and strip.
    Fly around and be active.
    If you give up a big gainer, don't get down. Keep going.
    Don't be intimidated by the reputation of UA. It's still just football.


    K.J. Dillon said he has plenty of time to prepare for the season opener against Alabama on Aug. 30. Yes, but does your teammates have enough time to adjust to what you bring to the game so they can elevate there game to where WVU plays better defense as a unit?


    How well will WVU handle Alabama switching temp themselves... how many different ways can Nick/ Alabama stop the action on the field? should be fun....


  • Ducks In A Row

    Headline: Nick Saban emphasizes slowing up-tempo offenses but downplays struggles against them........

    "In its games against Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Auburn, Alabama allowed an average of 483 yards and 40.3 points. In its other 10 games, it allowed an average of 227.5 yards and six points."

    ^^^ Very interesting read. Can they stop a fast paced, up-tempo WVU Offense? Thoughts, anyone?

    • David

      Do you know where there is a fast-pace, up-tempo, EVU offence? If so let me know.

    • Y-HOP

      Yes, hence the National Championships and #1 rankings!

    • Ron - from Morgantown

      Auburn played for the national championship and A-M had a QB who was pretty good . As far as Oklahoma is concerned - well I just don't think Bama heart was in the game , especially the players drafted in the NFL . I do think WVU will be facing a D that will be the toughest they see all year - and it's not even close . If Alabama brings the A game it will be a challenge for WVU to score in bunches . We don't have great speed on O like we had in the past . Remember that breakaway speed we had on previous teams where if a defender took the wrong angle or if we had the slightest opening we could score from anywhere on the field ? Well we don't have that on this years team . But we still may have the ability to play "fast " ie - snap the ball as quickly as the ref will allow by not substituting while being in various sets on the same possession . What is interesting about this game is that Alabama will try to do the exact opposite on offense . They are going to run the football until WVU proves they can stop it . They have the best RB in the country and the like smash mouth football . And as soon as you overplay the run , they will play fake to a RB and hit a big pass over the middle for a big gain . I think the game will be competitive . We will play better than VA TECH did against them last year . One more thing to consider - they will start a QB who will be playing in his first game for BAMA and they have a brand new O coordinator. So they may struggle on O to start this game .

      • Harpers Ferry

        In case you were worried, there's no minimum-word requirement to comments. Keep it short and sweet, stupid!

        • Ron- from Morgantown

          Follow me on twitter and I promise to respond in 140 characters or less. Obw Twitter also has 30 per cent fewer calories .

        • Hoffy

          Uh, I believe this forum isn't limited unless the editor determines otherwise....
          Who cares about the occasional length of a commentary?
          Gives us something to talk about!
          Why can't we have a little fun with it and enjoy the spirit of the situation?
          I won't make excessive posts.
          I won't make excessive posts.
          I won't make excessive posts.
          Lighten up folks!
          Te He!
          Hi William!

    • WVU75

      They can stop WVU if the offensive line isn't a ton better than last year. Got to pick up those blitzes! Saban and Kirby Smart tend to exploit weaknesses.

  • TX Hunter

    I like what I'm hearing out of Morgantown. I just hope the new defensive coaching staff will teach these guys to wrap up and finish tackles. "Leaping shoulder bumps" haven't proven to be a very productive method of getting off the field on third down over the past couple of seasons. I'm confident we'll see better play this year. Let's Go...!!

  • TruthTeller

    Just remember Alabama is a dirty playing team.
    Hey hold and they hit after the play is down.
    They play smash mouth football. They try to
    dominate you with their dirty play and get in your head to make you think you can't stop them. WVU will have to be mentally tough to tolerate their bully attitude and smack them right back in the mouth and tell them you are not so tough!!!

  • any major dude

    Slobberknock 'em!

  • Dave

    I think our guys are going to be ready for 'Bama.

    • Harpers Ferry

      And Saban's Tide won't?

      • TD

        You work for ESPN? You seem to hold Saban in a godly status like they do. In case you haven't figured it out the man can't adjust to the times instead he cries to anyone listening the game is to fast, slow it down so my simple mind can keep up, well I say dry it up Saban, coach or get out just shut up with the dam crying! Long day in Atlanta for Saban trying to slow down the air raid, sound the sirens Atlanta Bama's fixing to be bombed!

        • that's right

          Yeah man!

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Bust'em in the mouth!