Jared Bartlett is Confident the WVU Defense Will be Much Better
Most may assume the odds are stacked against the WVU defense being better in 2023, but don’t say that to Jared Bartlett.
The redshirt junior linebacker is confident this year’s group is primed to surprise people. In 2022, the Mountaineers were inconsistent defensively and struggled to create the pass rush West Virginia was able to rely on in prior seasons. WVU is now tasked with trying to get its groove back without Dante Stills.
So even though there’s pressure on the Mountaineers to turn things around, especially on the defensive side, what makes Bartlett believe WVU will be back to form this coming season?
“I’m not going to say we’re going to catch anybody off guard… We’re definitely going to be better than last year,” said Bartlett. He then elaborated on why this West Virginia defense, most notably up front and among the linebackers, will be much more aggressive than they were a season ago.
Bartlett Believes the Plan for the WVU Defense to Get Back to Basics Worked
That’s something that may sound crazy when you consider it will be doing this after the departure of an NFL talent in Stills, but Bartlett thinks the 2023 defense will be better, mostly because it will be more fundamentally sound.
A focus on getting back to the basics has been a Spring mandate from head coach Neal Brown and defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley.
Neal Brown Likes Progression of Defense, Knows There’s Still Room to Grow
Bartlett didn’t need to re-learn the basics himself, but it’s made the defense better at something that should be a staple of any quality defense – tackling. “I think we’re a better tackling defense. We really focused on that this spring… open field tackling, close quarter tackling,” he explained.
Bartlett’s Confidence in WVU Defense Can Rub Off
Nothing is guaranteed for this West Virginia defense, but one of its leaders and most experienced players feeling such a sense of confidence could rub off on everyone else. And confidence is usually a key attribute of any successful defense.
“You can tell guys are going to be more confident with how they play. It’s really exciting to see,” said Bartlett fully believing in his teammates and the 2023 Mountaineers.