MORGANTOWN – Kyle Rose understands the tradition behind the West Virginia football program.
The redshirt junior nose tackle is well aware last season’s 4-8 campaign did not live up to the standard.
“I worked hard during the offseason, but I also think everyone did,” the Centerville, Ohio native said. “We know what it means to the program, so I think that’s kind of why we pushed ourselves.
“We didn’t have a good season last year. That’s not what our program does, and that’s not how we like to represent it. We want to go to that playoff game, we want to be at a BCS bowl, and that’s our main goal right now. Anything that’s going to keep us from doing that is a distraction.”
Rose has played in 25 games during his career at West Virginia and started six of the 12 he appeared in last season at defensive end.
He moved to nose tackle this season, leaving first year defensive coordinator Tony Gibson two end spots to fill with the addition of losing Will Clarke to the NFL.
“We tried to address that in recruiting,” Gibson said. “We got (defensive lineman) Shaquille Riddick, who can do some of the same things Will was doing. Then you have (defensive linemen) Dontrill Hyman, Eric Kinsey and Noble Nwachukwu – guys who can fill in against the run and those kind of things. We feel pretty good about that position right now.”
Though the Mountaineers will be running a new 3-3-5 scheme on defensive this season, not much changes for defensive line. The unit’s No. 1 job is still cause havoc in the offensive backfield.
“We need to stop the run first,” Rose said. “That’s our main priority. We definitely need to stay in the pass rush lanes. If I can get in front
of (quarterback) Clint (Trickett) right now, get my arms up and effect his throwing, that’s what we need to do. A tipped ball is just like a sack for us.”
It’s not going to be easy getting to the quarterback with three down lineman, but defensive line coach Damon Cogdell says his unit will get it done.
“It’s tough,” the former Mountaineers linebacker said. “That’s going to be one of the first things somebody says is ‘you guys aren’t going to get back there with three guys.’ We’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.”
Cogdell returned to his alma mater this year after spending six seasons coaching Miramar High in Miami, Fla, the same school that produced former West Virginia stars Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney, among others.
“It’s been everything I thought it was going to be,” Cogdell said of his experience so far. “Great learning tool, I’ve been learning a lot of Xs and Os and just different types of kids, so it’s been fun.”
On to Alabama
Saturday marked the final preseason practice for West Virginia as the Mountaineers finished camp with an afternoon scrimmage.
Now the team’s focus is entirely on the season opener against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game set for Aug. 30 in the Georgia Dome.
“Monday they start school and that is their off day, so we will sit in meetings for 15 hours and begin our initial preparation for Alabama which is still two weeks out at that point,” Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
The Crimson Tide remain 27.5-point favorites.
The Mountaineers end camp with a few injury concerns.
Redshirt freshman receiver Jacky Marcellus is out for the season, while senior linebacker Jared Barber may be lost for the year as well.
Marcellus suffered a knee injury before camp began and Barber is continuing to rehab his ACL after injuring it in last season’s overtime loss to Texas.
“He is such a good team leader,” Holgorsen said of Barber.
“He will still have that role as a leader. He gets down there and coaches the heck out of the linebackers. He is a great kid to have around.”