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Will the Mountaineers Continue to Pressure Defensively?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 West Virginia at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last Saturday, Charles Woods played his first full football game of the 2022 season, given that he was hurt against the Pittsburgh Panthers and played limited snaps the week prior against Texas Tech Red Raiders. To hear the coaches talk about it, Woods return allowed them to bring more pressure and begin to play better, especially the second half of the TCU game where they only allowed 6 points until a free fourth down play.

It allows you to do a little bit more with your coverage structure. As everyone sees, it allows you to be a little more aggressive, which helps play to our strengths. It’s something that without [Woods] we haven’t been able to do. - Jordan Lesley, WVU Defensive Coordinator

So having Charles Woods back allowed the coaches to bring pressure. Checking the roster, Woods is a cornerback and I don’t seem to recall cornerback blitzes, so why does Woods’ absence prevent the coaches from blitzing?

When you pressure a lot you’re going to play man. The adjustments on the secondary are much easier rather than a zone pressure scheme. When you get [Charles Woods] back for a full game, it allows you to do more of that [playing man pressure]. It creates some single matchups where our strength is, the front of our defense.

It would appear that playing zone is bad and tougher and that playing man creates opportunities. So why did losing one cornerback not allow the coaching staff to do this? Why were they not running man all game against TCU?

With any coaching staff in our league, do you want to start the game with that philosophy and give them a chance to adjust and know what you’re in? OR do you want to hold and try to say this is what we’re going to do as the game goes on and see if they can adjust to it.

Certainly having adjustments is one of the biggest keys in football. Seeing what a team does in the first half and finding a way to move your pieces around and account for their moving their pieces around is part of the chess match that is football, yet I can’t believe that the staff saw all of the zone schemes that were getting torched week after week after week and decided that because now they have Woods back that they can make the defensive requirements for the secondary easier and would throw a man look at TCU in the second half.

Will this new philosophy change help the defense moving forward? Will teams adjust and now we’ll be bad at both man and zone?