WVSports  -  Mental reps helping WVU overcome communication problems on defense

Fall camp is time to work out the kinks ahead of the season and, according to inside linebackers coach Jeff Koonz, one big one is steadily improving: communication.

“That was one of our points of emphasis coming into camp, communication,” Koonz said Friday. “In today’s day in college football, there are no stationary targets anymore. They’re going to motion, they’re going to give you formations that are into the sideline, they’re going to give you multiple speed threats. You’ve got to be able to adjust your coverages and do it on the move when they’re moving backs and they’re moving tight ends.

“Communication has been the emphasis,” Koonz continued. “We’ve been going with the secondary and doing the picture, but at linebacker we talk about being the heartbeat of the defense. We’ve got to connect the front end to the back end so not only with the coverage checks, but also the front checks to make sure that we’re getting all the movement and the things that we do inside.”

Linebacker Exree Loe touched on the subject earlier in the week, noting that players like Josh Chandler-Semedo and Dante Stills have been speaking up on defense but that some of the new players have yet to do so.

Under Koonz’s jurisdiction are transfers Lance Dixon (Penn State) and Deshawn Stevens (Maine), who Loe expects will become more vocal as they get more comfortable. They’re two of five defensive transfers that are expected to be some sort of a factor this fall.

While the five newcomers each bring some kind of collegiate experience to Morgantown, they have limited experience in Koonz’s system compared to many of their teammates. Throw some freshmen into the mix and there is a drop off down the depth chart.

“What you find is, with that first group, you have a lot of seasoned vets on the back end,” Koonz said. “You’ve got Sean [Mahone], you’ve got Alonzo [Addae], you’ve got Josh and Exree. Those guys have played together now for two years at least, if not more. Where you see a big difference is from that first group to that second group.

“What I love to see is, that first group, when the twos are out there, they’re helping coach them. They’re bringing those guys in and watching film with them and they understand that there is a difference there, too — it’s experience. I’m just glad right now in our room that we’ve got more experience — maybe not here, but with those two transfers, you’ve got more guys that have actually played.”

Koonz says that he’ll barely speak in positional meetings. He’ll throw on game film, call out a group and have the players make the calls and adjustments.

“The camp itself has changed so much over the years,” Koonz said. “It’s not about being out there for seven hours because that’s not the point. The point is the mental repetitions of it and that’s where you can work on that.”

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By Malvi

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