Morgantown, West Virginia – When Vic Koenning and West Virginia “mutually separated” in the offseason, there were concerns about how the defense would respond. Koenning, who has been successful during a long career at many stops throughout college football, was replaced by co-defensive coordinators Jordan Lesley and Jahmile Addae, who had very little experience running a defense.
Lesley was the defensive coordinator at Northwest Mississippi Community College in 2012 and East Mississippi Community College from 2013-2015. Addae had been a defensive assistant since 2010 but had no experience as a defensive coordinator.
On paper, this looked like it could be a real problem. In addition to the lack of experience, two defensive coordinators was certainly not a traditionally successful method of coaching.
Although the Mountaineers are very talented defensively, the lack of experienced leadership, as well as the unorthodox use of two defensive coordinators, made the defensive unit a real unknown coming into the season.
The West Virginia Mountaineers defense has been nothing short of miraculous in the first three games of the season. After three games, the Mountaineers are 6th in the nation in yards allowed per game, giving up 268 yards per game. In the three games, West Virginia has given up 804 total yards and has allowed its opponents to average 4.39 yards per game.
The Mountaineers are currently 1st in the Big 12 in Total Defense, Passing Defense and Red Zone Touchdown Percentage Allowed (40%). In addition, West Virginia is 3rd in the Big 12 in Rushing Defense, giving up only 102 yards per game, and Tony Fields, the sensational linebacker who transferred this season from Arizona, leads the Big 12 in total tackles with 29.
West Virginia hasn’t just exceeded expectations, they have blown expectations out of the water through three games. Despite losing one of its best defenders in Kerry Martin, Jr., and going through an offseason filled with turmoil, the Mountaineers have one of the best defensive units in the Big 12 and the entire country right now.