Viola: WVU Defensive Line Hoping to Ride the Momentum
MORGANTOWN – Kyle Rose may have saved West Virginia’s season with his play against TCU last week.
On the first play of the game, the defensive end tipped a Casey Pachall pass and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski caught it to set up the Mountaineers’ first score.
Then, on the first play of overtime, Rose beat his man and got to Pachall for a 6-yard loss, from which the Horned Frogs never recovered.
”They were running a zone to the right and they all were kinda reach blocking and they all went a little too far outside and I just ran up the middle and came free,” Rose recalled. ”Pachall was either going to hand it off or he was going to take it. I just guessed right. I was pretty lucky on that play.
”Our team really showed true mental and physical strength coming through and getting that win. It definitely put us back on track to where we want the season to be.”
That physical strength by the defensive line was on full display against the Horned Frogs as 17 of the Mountaineers’ 21 hits on the quarterback came from a lineman.
”We just challenged each other to get to the quarterback a little more,” defensive end Will Clarke said. ”That’s something we were doing kinda at first, then we just had to get back to it. It was good because everyone was getting to him, not just one person.”
Three different Mountaineers recorded a sack, four came away with a turnover and six found the ballcarrier in the backfield, led by Clarke, who totaled 2.5 tackles for a loss.
”As long as me, Kyle and Will are coming off the ball, that gives the linebackers and the safeties free shots at the quarterback,” nose guard Shaq Rowell said. ”We just want to attack the ball. It doesn’t matter who comes up with the turnover. If you attack the ball, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Rowell, Rose and Clarke will definitely need to control the line of scrimmage again Saturday when the Texas Longhorns come to Morgantown.
UT’s offensive line is probably the most physical group of big uglies the Mountaineers have faced all season.
”They have three great running backs back there and that great offensive line,” Rowell pointed out. ”We just have to do our job. We have to be the more physical guys up front, period. If we’re not, they’re going to run the ball down our throat.”
”They’re some big boys,” Rose added. ”They move a lot of people around. Any offensive lineman in the Big 12 is going to be one of the top offensive linemen in the country.”
While Rose saw many 1-on-1 blocks in Fort Worth, that isn’t likely to be the case this week.
”(Texas’) blocking scheme is a little different,” he said. ”They do a lot of combo blocks. It’s nothing we haven’t seen. They run a lot of power and they do like to run the ball. Then once you stop the run, they like to spread you out. They’re a balanced offense.”
That offense, though, will not only be up against the Mountaineers defense, but also the WVU faithful who are sure to be riled up for a night game at Mountaineer Field.
”This is a different atmosphere,” Rowell said. ”I played at night in Texas last year and Oklahoma this year. Those guys are going to have to come in here and witness how Morgantown is at 7:30 at night. It’s going to be something special.”
Tony Viola can be reached at email@example.com