Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football: 5 things to know about West Virginia

Mountaineers have Big 12's top defense despite not having a defensive coordinator

West Virginia head coach Neal Brown cheers on his team against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football g
West Virginia head coach Neal Brown cheers on his team against Texas during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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AMES — West Virginia had an unscheduled bye week last week because of COVID-19.

The Mountaineers were scheduled to play Oklahoma on Saturday, but because of problems within Oklahoma’s team, the game was postponed to Dec. 12.

The Big 12 already scheduled three bye weeks into the season and the fourth wasn’t exactly welcome for West Virginia Coach Neal Brown.

“It was disappointing,” Brown said. “I understand that we’re in unique times and we’ve done relatively well managing it, but that could change at any moment. I understand Oklahoma’s position and my hope is and our plan is that we can play that game.”

Here are 5 Things about the Mountaineers.

1. West Virginia is a healthy team

West Virginia was coming off a convincing, 24-6, win against TCU before last Saturday’s postponement and was relatively healthy.

It wanted to build off that momentum against Oklahoma.

“We would probably have rather not had that extra week, honestly,” Brown said. “For this time of year, we’re in a good position. I think we’ll be pretty close to full strength as long as nothing happens this week.”

2. No defensive coordinator, no problem

For about a decade, the running joke in college football is the Big 12 plays no defense.

Well, West Virginia doesn’t have a defensive coordinator.

The Mountaineers have an offensive coordinator, co-offensive coordinator and an assistant head coach listed. But West Virginia doesn’t have a defensive coordinator listed.

Vic Koenning was placed on administrative leave on June 23 after allegations of mistreatment were brought forth by safety Kerry Martin.

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“After speaking with Kerry, I took immediate action,” Brown said in a statement at the time. “Along with (West Virginia athletics director) Shane (Lyons) and his team, we launched an independent investigation. I spoke with all parties involved, the defense as a unit and the team as a whole. I again emphasized to our team that our program culture will be one of acceptance, respect, tolerance and positive relationships. I stressed to our team and staff that we will be open and transparent throughout the University process.”

On July 22, Koenning and West Virginia “mutually agreed to part ways.”

Not having Koenning around seems to have done wonders for West Virginia as it boasts the best defense in the Big 12 by a wide margin after having one of the worst defenses the season before.

The Mountaineers allow just 17.8 points per game, nearly six points better than the next closest team, Iowa State. And West Virginia allows just 276 yards per game, nearly 52 yards better than the next closest team, Oklahoma.

Last season, under Koenning, West Virginia had the third worst defense in the Big 12, allowing 28.8 points and 399 yards.

3. What can Brown do for you?

West Virginia’s Leddie Brown is the Big 12’s second leading rusher behind Iowa State’s Breece Hall.

Brown has 897 yards this season and nine touchdowns.

He’s also proven to be a threat in the passing game, catching 27 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

4. Transfer QB Jarret Doege

Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege has stepped into West Virginia’s quarterback role and has played well.

The junior has completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,219 yards and 13 touchdowns.

And somewhat comically, because college football counts sacks as rushing yardage, Doege has rushed for minus-73 yards and two touchdowns.

5. Stills brothers

West Virginia boasts two of the best defensive linemen in the Big 12 in Darius and Dante Stills.

Older brother Darius has 19 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Younger brother Dante has 27 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

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