With 8 returning starters on the WVU defense this year, one could assume that WVU would see a lot of familiar faces on that side of the ball. However, anyone who watched last year's squad may long for a major upheaval after a miserable defensive showing in almost every game. While no official depth chart has been released, what follows is my best guess as to who will take the field for the Old Gold and Blue on August 31st against mighty William and Mary.
While Dana Holgorsen has been tight-lipped this off-season regarding any possible depth chart, he did hand-write a tentative roster before the spring got underway. His DB corps looked like this:
SS: Darwin Cook, Jarrod Harper
One face that will be notably missing from this years DB roster is Nana Kyeremeh, who is slated to have surgery on his shoulder and redshirt the 2013 season. After playing in every game last season and earning one start, this experience could prove costly to a rebuilding secondary. That being said, some new faces could provide the spark that was missing from last year's team.
Travis Bell was moved from Safety to Corner shortly before the spring game, and the transition has apparently agreed with him. While Brodrick Jenkins continues to nurse a sore knee, Bell and Ishmael Banks are dueling it out for the starting nod. Last monday, Banks and Bell played with the first team, which shows which way the coaches may be leaning. Don't expect Jenkins to sit back and let those two take his position from him as he looks to push the competition. With the loss of Kyeremeh, some younger players like Daryl Worley may get a chance to show off their athleticism early, which could prove useful for depth as the season progresses.
With many question marks at the CB position, little is in doubt at the Safety slots. Karl Joseph and Darwin Cook will look to lead the secondary as two very solid returners from last year's squad. Although the defense as a whole stunk last year, Joseph and Cook were consistent competitors and can lay the lumber when given the chance. Jeremy Tyler will have an opportunity to showcase his talents when he spells Joseph. The freshman has been creating a stir among players and coaches in practice and will look to make his mark when he can.
Now, what does it all mean? Obviously Joseph and Cook will be starting in their respective positions while Banks and Bell appear to have the early edge (pun intended) at Corner. That leaves us with this:
FC: Ishmael Banks
BC: Travis Bell
FS: Karl Joseph
SS: Darwin Cook
I wouldn't be surprised to see a much better product on the field this year as Assistant Coach Brian Mitchell continues to preach fundamentals and football IQ, two things VERY apparently lacking last year. Any improvement will be a step in the right direction, and this year's unit may end up surprising a lot of us.
As always, Let's GO!