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Defense Stepping Up This Spring

Throughout the spring, the most oft-asked question is how a certain player, position or side of the ball is performing. With the majority of practice closed, even to the media, that question gets asked of West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen more than usual. The Mountaineers' head man made one thing clear on Tuesday night, though - there are too many new faces on the offense to give a proper assessment.

Holgorsen says that Karl Joseph is bigger, faster and stronger this spring.

"Offensively, we are just so inexperienced," said Holgorsen. "I don’t know where to start. We have a bunch of guys that will make a play and then make a mistake."

While he was dismissive of the offense, Holgorsen was quick to point out several top performers on the other side of the ball, beginning with last year's starting safeties, Darwin Cook and Karl Joseph.

"Cook looks totally different than a year ago," said Holgorsen. "He is not limping around; he is not making excuses and he is in better shape. He took this offseason more serious."

"Karl Joseph has had a great offseason," he continued. "He is bigger, he is faster, he is stronger and he is more comfortable in the system."

The praise did not stop there. Holgorsen felt compelled to point out top performers at every level of the defense. At the linebacker position, he lauded the play of both Nick Kwiatkoski and Isaiah Bruce; and was thrilled with performances from both Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell along the defensive line.

"(Clarke) was dominating that (Oklahoma) drill; we couldn't block him," said Holgorsen. "Shaq is just a big dude that is going to take on two to three blockers and hold his gaps. From a leadership standpoint, I am real pleased with what he is doing."

Of course, everyone looks better when all coaches on the defense are on the same page.

"There were a couple of different philosophies last year but now, there is obviously one voice, there is one scheme, and that is what we want to do," said Holgorsen, referring to Keith Patterson being the sole defensive coordinator. "The continuity of the staff and what we are doing schematically and with everybody being on the same page, you see a lot of people that are in a position to make plays."

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