It has been an odd few months for all college football teams. For WVU — and, in particular, its defense — that’s even truer.
In July, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and the university announced they would part ways after claims Koenning used language insensitive toward different races and religions and people with special needs.
In the aftermath, instead of naming or hiring a new defensive coordinator, head coach Neal Brown decided to divide the duties between defensive line coach Jordan Lesley and cornerbacks coach Jahmile Addae.
Both Lesley and Addae addressed the media in preparation for Saturday’s season opener against Eastern Kentucky. That game is scheduled for a noon kick in Morgantown and will be televised on FS1.
It’s an unusual working relationship between the two when compared to other programs around the country, but both said it has been a smooth and healthy one thus far.
“That’s the million-dollar question, ‘How are you guys working together,’ ” Addae said. “We’ve been working together since last year and having and sharing the same ideas, sitting in the same meeting rooms, having the same discussions and agreeing to disagree and at the end of the day coming up with solutions that are best for the program and best for our defense. Nothing has changed there. He’s been awesome to work with. I learn something every day working with him.”
It would certainly seem to create an interesting dynamic, especially on game days, but Lesley said that most things are worked out in practices leading up to the game.
“We’re on the same page on what fits together and what we need to be in package wise and fronts that go with certain coverages,” Lesley said. “It’s really just an open line of communication between both of us and to what we want to do that series, that play and we know we have to do that, but most of that is worked our during the week. ‘Hey, this is what I like and this goes with it and let’s roll with it.’ That’s been good, we work together really well.”
In order for the WVU defense to work together well, it will take some serious cohesion between Lesley’s front of the defense and Addae’s back of it.
“We have to get both parts of that in the right positions whether it’s something we’re doing to a certain protection or maybe it’s not anything we need to do and we just need to let a guy go,” Lesley said. “Also asking our next-level guys not to do things they may not necessarily have success doing. That’s all part of figuring out as you go in fall camp and you evaluate every day what a guy can or can’t do.
“We talk about those things not even on a daily basis, but from drill to drill against our offense, which me and Coach Addae, ‘What do you think here? What do you like here? What can this guy do? Do you like this package?’ So it’s starting to come together.”
To further ensure things are coming together, the defensive staff has gotten together to call practice games, with Lesley calling the plays with Addae’s input. Addae said that has worked well too, although the specifics of the conversations taking place via headset were a little too heavy to divulge in a press conference.
“Obviously I’ll express what I like, but not only me, the entire staff,” Addae said. “We will come together on that and by the time we get to game day with Jordan calling it — it will obviously be with him just to know what I want in those situations. We’ve done a few mock games and mock practices where we’ve had some fun. You don’t want to hear what’s on those headsets, that’s not what you want me to go through right now.”