March 2, 2007

Rich Rodriguez for the defense

MORGANTOWN--Rich Rodriguez went on the defensive about his defense Thursday afternoon in a spring football luncheon saying "there is no magic wand to wave and make your defense the best in the country. It ain't like that."

However, the seventh-year head coach who keeps setting winning records each season, said the goal of spring ball will be to force current defensive players to "play at a higher level" and to tweak schemes to force a) a better pass rush and b) better coverage in the secondary.

"People say, 'Just change the defense. Wave a magic wand and you'll be best defense in the country.' It ain't that simple. You've gotta look at the defense, that's my job as head coach," he said.

The 3-3 odd-stack defense took as much criticism from the media and fans last season as All-American Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White drew raves for their offensive exploits.

The Mountaineers allowed 22 points per game, but gave up 44 at 5th-ranked Louisville, 39 to 13th-ranked Rutgers in three overtimes and 35 to Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

They allowed 141 first downs via the air in 12 games. Though they allowed opponents to average just 93 yards on the turf and just 12 TDs by air, they permitted more almost 3,200 yards by pass. They finished with 16 interceptions and almost 3 sacks per game.

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