By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
I was surprised that the defense defeated the offense 43-34 in West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue spring football contest.
In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing one of those games ever being won by defenders. It was always an offensive show for the fans.
But there were those who did not seem surprised at all that the defensive units overcame an early 14-0 deficit and wound up dominating the event last Saturday night in the rain.
Joe DeForest, WVU associate head coach and defensive coordinator, most certainly let it be known with emphasis that he wasn’t surprised at all by the spring game’s outcome.
He said, “I am happy for our players on defense and I’m happy for our coaching staff. It gives you something to build on.
“I’ve seen improvement (in the defense) every day this spring. Every day we’ve improved on defense, whether it was a certain position or a certain coverage or a certain blitz.
“We’ve gotten better at something different every day. Our guys came up with big plays at key moments and really turned the momentum around.”
The biggest plays for the Blue (defensive) team were pass interceptions by defensive backs Matt Moro, Brodrick Jenkins and Will Clarke. Avery Williams came up with a fumble recovery.
Quarterbacks Geno Smith and Paul Millard both had a good night passing the ball. The two combined for 49 completions in 65 attempts for 534 yards and three touchdowns.
Smith completed short passes to Stedman Bailey and Jordan Thompson for touchdowns. Millard connected with Dante Campbell for a TD. Shawne Alston scored on a 1-yard run.
Tyler Bitancurt made two field goals from 36 and 37 yards.
Dana Holgorsen, in his second year as head coach, seemed content with how things turned out. In fact, he had said before the game he expected the defense to perform very well and that the offense might be a little complacent.
After the contest ended, he commented:
“From an offensive perspective, we made some big plays and scored some touchdowns. But we turned the ball over.
“From a defensive perspective, we gave up some plays, but got some turnovers.
“So somewhere in the middle of that, we’re going to be a good football team. But we’ve got a long ways to go.”
The Mountaineers will be concentrating mostly on classroom studies in preparation for final exams the next three weeks.
Then they will begin a summer of workouts on their own with strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph and his staff.
Tyler Anderson, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound junior linebacker from Morgantown, wasn’t surprised because the defensive players generally felt they would come out on top.
He said, “As a whole, I think it made everybody feel better. We went out there wanting to win.
“We got some turnovers and made some big plays. We played hard. But we still have to get a lot better,” Anderson said.
He likes the new defensive scheme. He said it’s easier to play and requires less thinking.