WVU’s defense came up big when the team needed it most to win the Backyard Brawl

Sep. 17—MORGANTOWN — For the last year and change, West Virginia football’s biggest weakness has been its defense. Against rival Pitt on Saturday, however, that same defense turned out to be the Mountaineers’ greatest strength.

Against the Panthers, WVU’s much-maligned defense grabbed three interceptions, only allowed 211 yards and kept the Panthers out of the endzone, only surrendering a pair of field goals.

“We’ve been fairly criticized over the last year-and-a-half, especially in the secondary, that we haven’t played as well, ” head coach Neal Brown said after the game. ” I’m happy for those guys in the secondary. And I’m happy for (safeties coach) Dontae Wright), defensive backs coach) ShaDon Brown and (defensive coordinator), Jordan Lesley, they had a good plan.

WVU gave up 262.3 passing yards per game last year and were allowing 285.1 this season before holding Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec to just 81 yards on 8 of 20 passing.

“We knew coming into the game that their quarterback wasn’t that good at his job or whatever, ” said cornerback Beanie Bishop, who grabbed the second of three Jurkovec picks in the game. “Me, Anthony (Wilson), (Malachi) Ruffin, we were all wondering who was going to be next because interceptions come in bunches. We knew we were due for one.”

The Mountaineers had just four interceptions all of last season. The three on Saturday, from Bishop, safety Aubrey Burks and cornerback Malachi Ruffin, already puts WVU at five so far this year.

“We wanted to make it tough on the quarterback, ” Brown said. “People are going to point and blame it on him, but it’s hard to throw the ball when you’ve got people in your face. That’s the easy choice for fans and critics a lot of times, that’s it’s got to be the quarterback. Well, there’s a lot of stuff going on in front of that quarterback. We were able to…

Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/wvus-defense-came-big-team-023300636.html?src=rss

Author : The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

Publish date : 2023-09-18 02:33:00

Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source.

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