Charlotte, NC – The Mountaineers kicked off their 2018 season with a 40-14 route of Tennessee in the Belk College Kickoff and the one thing that stood out about West Virginia was not necessarily it’s offense.
It was the defense.
In an impressive showing, it was one new face in particular that spearheaded the Mountaineers’ defense: Kenny Bigelow.
Bigelow spent his first four seasons with the USC Trojans where he seldomly saw the field before transferring to West Virginia. Knee injuries kept him sidelined for much of his career and hindered his development. Since transferring to West Virginia, Bigelow has not only turned some heads in practice behind closed doors, but finally put it all together in his debut as a Mountaineer.
He finished the game with two tackles, both for loss, and a forced fumble on the opening play of the game.
His presence was known right out of the game and gave Tennessee center Brandon Kennedy fits through the entirety of the afternoon. His ability to get serious push created gaps for linebackers to come down and make plays. Although he may only get credit for two tackles, he helped create upwards of ten, if not more.
West Virginia entered the off-season with some major question marks once defensive lineman Adam Shuler and Lamonte McDougle transferred out of the program. Bigelow seems to be an upgrade, through one game that is, but they desperately needed that veteran leadership up front to go along with Reese Donahue.
In the post game interviews Bigelow stuck out as a guy that had a ton of passion and confidence in the defense. His energy is certainly contagious.
“Everybody was feeding off of each other. Everybody was playing for each other. I’m talking to Reese (Donahue), Reese is talking to me, I’m talking to Zeke (Rose) everybody is feeding off of that energy. I make a play, guys gets hype, Reese makes a play, guys get hype. We was able to feed off each other for the entirety of the game,” Bigelow said after the win.
For a guy who has never truly played the nose tackle position, he seemed to feel extremely comfortable.
“In my time at USC, I was fortunate enough to play in multiple defenses, so I’ve had experiences playing in 4-man and I’ve had experiences playing in 3-man (defensive line fronts) so the transition for me more so was from end to nose because I never truly played nose until now. I feel with the scheme that Coach Gibby has and Coach Tall has done a great job helping me transition to it, I feel it was a good fit for me.” Bigelow said.
It’s hard to make assumptions on the impact of a player after one game, but I think it is safe to acknowledge the talent Bigelow has and a man getting a sexond chance to play the game he loves is a dangerous combination.
He will certainly make the most out of it and it will surely benefit West Virginia in 2018.