MORGANTOWN-We've all heard the old saying, "the buck stops here".
That will indeed be the case with the defense at West Virginia University, which will be switching from the 3-3-5 stack alignment to a more conventional 3-4/4-3 lineup when it opens the 2012 campaign against Marshall in the Friends of Coal Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 1.
"There will be a lot of pressure, but we are going to go out there and play football the way we've been taught," explained redshirt junior Tyler Anderson. "The new scheme allows us to be a little more flexible, but it also puts a lot more pressure for those of us playing the 'buck' because we have to be able to rush the quarterback as well as drop back in pass coverage."
Anderson was one of four players that came out of the spring in line to see playing time at the position. Redshirt sophomore Jewone Snow, who has seven starts under his belt, topped that list with senior Josh Francis, Anderson and redshirt junior Chidoziem Ezemma rounding out the group.
"I played d-end in high school," said Ezemma. "But, I'm more of a buck as far as physically. I'm comfortable doing both so whichever one he (defensive line coach Erik Slaughter) wants me at is fine with me."
The new position, as well as the new coaching staff, has resulted in a different coaching style. Defensive ends and bucks work on drills that place a larger emphasis on agility while nose and defensive tackles concentrate more on power moves.
"We like to divide them up that way in drill work, because the run responsibilities are the same (for the ends and the bucks)," said Slaughter. "The thing the buck has to do in addition is pass cover, but that will come later."
The first year defensive staff also has changed up the way players lifted during the summer.
"They (the coaches) actually made it harder for the linebackers," said Ezemma. "The workouts are more like what the linemen did last year. We have been throwing up a lot of weight and we've been doing more things with our hips."
Whether the new workouts, or the new scheme, accomplish their goals won't be known until the season begins. Or will it?
"With our defense going up against our offense we are facing one of the best in the country," said Anderson. "They can be put right up there with the best offenses in the Big 12. We see people like Tavon (Austin) and Geno (Smith) playing their positions.
"Once you see that, you don't get to see a lot more better. Once you've seen that, you've seen it all."
The new system does allow for more up field attacking and a chance for defensive linemen to get into the backfield and make plays. But, it is not an all-out blitz. Linemen, especially the bucks, will still have assignments and responsibilities.
"Everyone has a gap no matter what defense you play," said Slaughter. "Our deal here is we're more of an attacking, shading style than they played last year. But, it's still press, get off of the block and make a tackle."
If the defense can accomplish that, then the 'buck' truly will stop in Morgantown.