Matchup: Injuries, NFL departures force Tide defense to replenish

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Alabama’s running game has long been infamous for overpowering defenses, but Mark Glowinski envisions West Virginia’s offensive line pulling off that feat Saturday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.

“If we can get off the ball and do what we’ve been doing (in camp), I think we’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll tire them down.”

Glowinski and fellow guard Quinton Spain are seniors and the unquestioned pillars up front for West Virginia, a team forced to repeatedly evaluate and commiserate over last season’s 4-8 finish. All that reflection will give way to new results once the Mountaineers finally line up against No. 2 Alabama.

Guard Mark Glowinski says West Virginia can set up its season “if we put on a great show against Alabama.”

The Tide defense is in replenishing mode, having lost seven starters to graduation or NFL draft early entry—an exodus that includes Butkus Award winner C.J. Mosley. Two top returning linebackers, Trey DePriest and Denzel Devall, were slowed by leg injuries during preseason camp, and defensive linemen Brandon Ivory and Jarran Reed missed more than a week of practice while serving suspensions.

Those gaps were offset by Nick Saban’s staff stocking up once more in the latest round of recruiting. The Crimson Tide signed seven of the top 38 defensive players in the nation, according to Rivals, and some of that talent likely will be forced into immediate action against West Virginia.

“The name on the back changes, but the same body type typically shows up every year,” said Mountaineers offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “Their guys up front are hard to move.”

Yet Glowinski seems almost giddy over the challenge. His perma-grin has been a staple thoroughout camp, as though he senses a redemptive senior season about to unfold.

“That’s probably the biggest opportunity that we have,” he said. “If we can put on a great show against Alabama, it will really set us up for the rest of the season.”

He recognizes the consequences attached to this game—the highest-ranked opponent WVU has faced since losing 47-21 to LSU in 2011. And diverting from the it’s-just-another-game mantra, Glowinski suggested it’s impossible not to emphasize the matchup against Alabama, a tradition-thick program he grew up revering in Eastern Pennsylvania.

“You’ve always watched them as kids—it has always been a team you wanted to play against,” Glowinski said. “In the back yard and stuff, you’re always talking about these teams.”





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