New football coaches to give WVU defense a fresh start

March 6, 2012 12:00 am

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West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen outlined the roles of his new defensive staff Monday, a week before the start of spring football.

Joe DeForest will be co-defensive coordinator and coach the safeties and Keith Patterson, who coached at Pitt last year, will be co-defensive coordinator and coach the linebackers.

"Defensively, it is going to be more like we were offensively last year," Holgorsen said. "It is new coaches, a new scheme and it is kind of a fresh start for a whole bunch of defensive players."

Erik Slaughter, Holgorsen's final hire this winter, will coach the defensive line.

Several other changes were also announced by Holgorsen.

Shannon Dawson was promoted to offensive coordinator (Holgorsen had the title and duties last year) and will coach the receivers.

Steve Dunlap will be associate head coach and special teams coordinator.

Daron Roberts moves from the offensive staff to the defense and will coach the cornerbacks.

The defense will be overhauled from the 3-3-5 stack run by former defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to a 3-4 and sometimes a more traditional 4-3.

Patterson, who spent four years at Tulsa before his year at Pitt, has extensive experience facing the kind of spread offenses West Virginia is likely to see in the Big 12 next year.

"He has gone up against our offense for the last four years and again, going back to going into the Big 12 and the amount of spread offenses that we are going to be seeing, that is really important to have that kind of philosophy," Holgorsen said.

"We will be able to line up a defense that we want to go to, which is more of a 3-4 defense, and be able to kick it down to a 4-3. There is a lot of variety in what you can do to that, and it is something that over the years has given me problems to the point where I knew that that was the direction that we wanted to go."

Holgorsen said he's looking forward to the clean slate his defensive players will have in spring football.

"Last year, we didn't have any starters offensively. We took everybody, we reevaluated them and we ended up getting some guys that hadn't played in the past like Ryan Nehlan, Willie Millhouse and Tyler Rader and some guys like that and gave them a fresh start," he said.

"We kind of want that same thing to happen to us defensively. Everybody's slate has been wiped clean, and they can get out there and they can show these new guys what they got."

Spring football begins Sunday and ends with the annual Gold-Blue spring game April 21.

First Published 2012-03-05 23:23:49

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