Morgantown, WV – The West Virginia defense has a unique position, albeit it is not exclusive to the Mountaineers, but the BANDIT has a tough role within the defense. In a way, the BANDIT is what defenses have become in all three tiers of the defense, versatile.
“If you look at 3-4 backers throughout the NFL and college, that’s what they are,” said West Virginia defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley. “I think if you put a primary role with it, it’s a pass rusher, but they also have to have some savvy in their drops, and when you do have to play any type of man how you play that. They have to have some just a little bit of football knack about them.”
The BANDIT was introduced in Morgantown with the arrival of head coach Neal Brown. A defense featuring three down linemen but a fourth can be introduced from the BANDIT, which is essentially a hybrid of an outside linebacker and a nickel corner, who can also line up along the defensive line. Of course, we’ve seen the defensive staff add in a fourth defensive lineman as well.
Redshirt sophomore Jared Bartlett and sophomore Lanell Carr have shown potential in previous seasons. Bartlett notched three sacks in the fourth quarter in the win over Virginia Tech last season, finishing with 3.5 sacks on the year in 12 appearances, including three starts.
“Jared has shown a lot of growth the last two days on very, very simple things – pad level leverage, just basic football fundamentals, so has Lanell but Jared really stood out on of couple things,” said Lesley.
Bartlett and Carr are expected to get most of the snaps this season, but the two will utilize their skillsets and bring a different approach to the position.
“When you look at It Jared is kind of a utility guy, we can use him in a lot of different places,” said Lesley. “Lanell is probably more of a pass rusher. Aric Burton, a young player I think has put on maybe 11 pounds this offseason. So, he’s going to get there, he’s not there yet but he’s going to get there.” Lesley also noted redshirt sophomore Taurus Simmons is a guy who gives a little more size and strength over there when they need it.
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Bartlett has put up the stats for optimism the last two years while Carr has not gotten to the quarterback yet, he’s harassed his opponents in the backfield but the key for both linebackers will be consistency.
“They’ve had a great summer,” said Lesley. “A lot of promise a lot of not only learning the scheme but how they can use the scheme for their benefit on certain things, which we were always able to do with a couple of all-conference players years ago once guys figured it out, and I think both of those guys are really starting to do that this summer.”
While the two have been in Morgantown the last few years, Lesley wants the base of the defense to become second nature before he turns them loose.
“I think they’ll get to that point where we can do some different things but quite honestly,” said Lesley. “But right now, I’m focused on rushing the passer, playing the run and focusing on your base drops, then we’ll move on from there.”
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