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WVU’s Defensive Coaches are Gelling Together Nicely in Their Revised Roles

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West Virginia football made an interesting decision with its coaching staff this offseason.

After former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and WVU agreed to mutually part ways, the team did not hire a new defensive coordinator or name an interim. Instead, the defensive coordinator duties were split among defensive line coach Jordan Lesley and defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae.

In this configuration, Lesley would be in charge of the front of WVU’s defense and Addae would be in charge of the back. According to Lesley and Addae, the situation has worked out well, heading into the team’s first game.

“It’s been awesome,” Addae told reporters Tuesday. “It’s funny…that’s the million-dollar question, ‘how are you guys working together?’. We’ve been working together since last year and have been sharing the same ideas, sitting in the same meeting rooms, having the same discussions, agreeing to disagree and at the end of the day, coming up with solutions that are best for the program and best for our defense. Nothing has changed there; he’s been awesome to work with.”

“We’re on the same page of what fits together and what we need to be in package-wise and fronts that go with certain coverages and so it’s really just an open line of communication between both of us,” Lesley added. “That’s been really good, we’ve worked together really well.”

Despite Addae and Lesley being the ones in charge, Addae says all of the defensive coaches are working together well.

“Jeff Koonz is a great defensive mind, Dontae Wright’s been a coordinator in his own right,” Addae said. “We’ve got Jeff Casteel, the guy who brought me to this place, in the room too so to say that it’s going to be a dictator-type situation or that it’s just a two-headed horse, I think we’d be lying. Right now, I think we have a really good handle on how we’re handling things and we’re just hoping to continue to grow as we roll, just as we expect our kids to do.”

Koonz (inside linebackers), Wright (safeties) and Casteel (outside linebackers) are all new additions to WVU’s coaching staff this fall. Casteel, a former defensive coordinator at WVU and Addae’s former coach, brings a certain level of comfort to the room.

“It’s been cool to turn around and see coach Casteel in there and still be able to pick his brain about some things,” Addae said. “Lord knows I owe him a lot, from my first job to my first start, a lot of first come from that guy. Just having him there is a comfort in itself but then also the football coach. We all know he’s done some really brilliant things here and at other places and so anytime you can bring that type of knowledge into a room, it’s obviously helpful.”

On the football side of things, a lot of the preparation and planning for games will happen between them all during the week. Lesley said things like what packages and formations to use in what situations will be decided on prior to gameday.

“Most of that is worked out during the week,” Lesley explained. “It’s ‘hey this is what I like and it goes with this and alright let’s roll with it, let’s go’. ”

The Mountaineers will make their season debuts at home Saturday against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Kickoff is at noon and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

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Cody spent the last two years getting his master's degree in journalism from WVU. He graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2018 with a degree in digital media production. He was born and raised in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

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