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2012 WVU Football Unit Previews: Defensive Secondary

Senior Pat Miller is projected as one of the two starters at cornerback for the Mountaineers this season.
Senior Pat Miller is projected as one of the two starters at cornerback for the Mountaineers this season.

Our unit preview series continues with a look at the defensive backfield. The defensive backfield, the last line of defense, where hopes and dreams can be crushed with one blown coverage assignment. This is a unit that will be thoroughly tested in the pass happy Big 12 this season. One tactic prevalent in the league that will test the depth of the Mountaineers is the tendency to run vertical/stretch routes with receivers over and over to wear down the corners, then put a fresh #1 wideout to burn an inexperienced corner brought in to spell a starter.

Gone are stalwarts Eain Smith and Keith Tandy and Terence Garvin is moving down into a linebacker role this season. Now seniors Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins are manning the corners. Other corners listed on the initial depth chart were Cecil Level, Avery Williams and true freshmen Ricky Rumph (who Coach DeForest called a "steal" of a recruit) and Nana Kyeremeh.

Veteran Darwin Cook and freshman Karl Joseph are holding down the safety positions. Another freshman safety who has been turning heads is K.J. Dillon. Dillon is the larger of the two freshman and has been getting plenty of reps with the first teamers due to an earlier injury to Darwin Cook. While both freshman are drawing rave reviews from the coaching staff, some in the media are comparing them to Mountaineer great Robert Sands. Here's what coach Dunlap has to say about them:

"He's got a great combination of size and speed,'' Dunlap said of Dillon. "He's a lot like Robert Sands was. It's just a matter of how much can he take and how soon can he absorb it all. He's a smaller version, but yeah, both he and Karl Joseph are a lot like Robert was.'' - Charleston Gazette

Yes, WVU's secondary will be tested this year. With the hype machine running in high gear, CBS's Bruce Feldman is saying that the unit is a key to a possible BCS title run. The good news is that these guys are going up against some of the best wide receivers and perhaps the best quarterback in the country running Coach Holgorsen's offense every day in practice. Depth and inexperience are legitimate concerns this season. Will Coach Roberts' and DeForest's charges be up to the test? They better be if WVU expects to contend for a league title, before even thinking about a national one.