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Demotions and Promotions Expected on WVU Secondary Ahead of Pitt Game



WVU Football Secondary with coach Donate Wright in the middle

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU head coach Neal Brown wants to make sure his players know playing time is a privilege, not a right. He’s now hammering this message home as his team prepares for the Backyard Brawl.

This strategy is going to be most evident on the West Virginia secondary. Brown went as far as to refer to changes in playing time as “demotions” and “promotions” for certain players. This will mean several defensive backs who have been struggling will likely see a reduction in their snaps while others will earn increased opportunities on Saturday night.

“There’s going to be some demotions and some promotions and some decreased snaps from some people. They’re not getting fired, some snaps are going to get decreased,” said Brown during his weekly press conference on Monday.

When asked if this is being triggered due to the defense facing off against a veteran quarterback like Pitt’s Phil Jurkovec or if it’s more about the past two weeks, Brown was quick to emphasize that this is happening because of what has already occurred and not because of the upcoming opponent

“We’ve got some guys playing with bad technique. Not looking at the quarterback when we should be looking at the quarterback, not getting hands on guys. That’s only going to get more exposed as the season goes unless we get that fixed,” Brown explained about what he’s noticed has been going wrong in pass coverage.

While some argued the secondary struggling against Penn State was just because they were dealing with a five-star quarterback and a top team, but no excuse could defend the issues continuing in the win over Duquesne.

It was often the same old story for the secondary on Saturday night. For the second straight week, WVU’s safeties and corners appeared to struggle, especially if faced with any one-on-one coverage.

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The coaching has been telling us the defense would be deeper this season. For that to be the case, the secondary will have to step up and perform to the level of hype around the likes of Aubrey Burks, Beanie Bishop and a now more experienced Jacolby Spells.

Bishop did accomplish his first interception of the season in the game, and so did Anthony Wilcox. But that doesn’t make up for the struggles throughout most of the rest of the game. The recipe for West Virginia to beat Pitt could be forcing Phil Jurkovec to make mistakes and turn the ball over. With that said, a veteran quarterback like Jurkovec could also pick apart the Mountaineers if the secondary doesn’t start playing much better.

One bright spot from a coaching perspective for WVU about the secondary being tested so early in this season is what it is showing about true character of the defense as a group. Defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley actually noted how he saw members of the defensive line and linebackers going over to support the secondary after rough possessions against Duquesne.

Lesley said that he hasn’t seen anything like that throughout his time at West Virginia and knowing he can rely on the players to pick up each other is a big comfort for the coaching staff. Lesley agreed it demonstrates the positive vibe around the team, again something he feels has been a noticeable difference from last year.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Vernon E Loveoy

    September 11, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    Seriously, we need to schedule more community colleges.

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