MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The disgusting tone from West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson will resonate through a bye week after his players gave up three touchdowns to an FCS team.
Gibson declared “we can’t tackle” following West Virginia’s 38-21 win over Youngstown State on Saturday. With no game this week, he’s getting an early start on figuring out a way to corral BYU’s shifty quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams on Sept. 24.
With less than three weeks until the Big 12 opener, Gibson wants to fix things quickly on a unit that has nine new starters. He said he hopes to “find 11 guys that are going to be able to do what I tell them to do and coach them to do. That’s the bottom line.”
Through two games the West Virginia defense ranks next-to-last in the Big 12 with an average of 434 yards allowed. It gave up 280 passing yards to Missouri sophomore Drew Lock and let Youngstown State flourish despite not having its injured starting running back.
West Virginia (2-0) has one sack overall and Gibson said the defensive line, which includes returning starters Christian Brown and Noble Nwachukwu (wah-CHOO-koo), got “manhandled” by Youngstown State.
“I apologize to all West Virginia football fans and everybody that’s ever played here on defense for that showing,” Gibson said. “Guys looked lost. We got outcoached, got outplayed. (Youngstown State) controlled the line of scrimmage — everything we warned them about all week long.”
Some mistakes were subtle, others obvious.
West Virginia safety Rasul Douglas, who had a team-high 11 tackles and two pass breakups against the Penguins, intercepted Ricky Davis but was flagged for holding on the play. Youngstown State marched the length of the field for its first touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Youngstown State’s Alvin Bailey got past safety Jarrod Harper in one-on-one coverage and scored on a 74-yard pass play for a 14-7 lead.
Douglas said the defense was plagued at times by communication errors against the Penguins.
“One side of the field knew the call and wasn’t relaying it,” he said. “Or we didn’t get the call. I can’t say we slept on them. I feel like we didn’t come out in the first half and dominate like we normally do.
“There’s going to always to be errors and mistakes. We just have to learn and keep going on.”
Safety Jeremy Tyler said Gibson’s assessment was “absolutely right,” while linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, who had an interception against Youngstown State, said the defense knew it didn’t play up to its potential.
Gibson said the bye week comes at a good time for the coaching staff. Maybe not for his players.
“Oh yeah, it’s going to be a long two weeks for them,” he said. “I’m going to have fun for two weeks.”
Fun, perhaps. But things may not get much easier once West Virginia plays BYU in Landover, Maryland.
“It’s going to take a lot more,” Benton said. “We’ve got to get that stuff together and get ready for the next one.”
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