Joseph: WVU defense improved

Every football player, whether he plays at the pee wee, middle school, high school or college level, has hopes and desires for the upcoming 2013 campaign.

However, those of West Virginia University sophomore defensive back Karl Joseph might come as a surprise to many Mountaineer fans.

“I hope everybody we play thinks we (the defense) will suck,” Joseph said. “I hope they all take us lightly. I hope they think we will be no good again.

“Because, if they think we will, then will they be surprised.”

Playing as a true freshman at the free safety position, Joseph made an immediate impact on the West Virginia program last season as he led the team with 104 tackles and 76 unassisted tackles as well as one sack, 7.5 tackles for loss (third on the team), six pass breakups, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Numbers that were better than expected coming from an untested freshman who, one year earlier, was chasing down high school receivers and tackling running backs that were not on the same playing level as those he faced in WVU’s new home – the Big 12 conference.

“We (the defense) learned a lot,” continued Joseph. “We learned that we can’t take plays off. That we have to be ready every play and that someone has to be ready to make a play every play.”

That wasn’t the case in 2012 when opposing offenses scorched the old gold and blue for 38.1 points and 472.5 yards per game. Numbers that had the unit ranked among the worst in the country.

“We know that we weren’t very good last year. We have heard it all. But, we also had a lot of young players and now those players have experience and that will help a lot this year.”

Enough to help a Mountaineer team void of its top offensive threats – quarterback Geno Smith, running back Shawne Alston and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey?

“We may not have a Tavon, or Geno, or Stedman or Shawne, but we have some guys who can make plays on offense. But, the defense can’t worry about them, we have to take care of our own business. If we do that, then I think we have the chance to play with anybody on our schedule.”

Pretty big words coming from a player that, at 202 pounds, isn’t that big. But, ones echoed by his teammates on the prevent unit.

“The effort was always there,” junior linebacker Jared Barber said. “The problem was that we weren’t always as disciplined as we needed to be.

“We’d line up wrong or someone would miss an assignment and we’d give up a big play. But, we have worked really hard in the spring, and now, to correct those mistakes and I think fans will be surprised at how the defense plays this season.

“We are used to having Top 10 defenses around here and that is what our goal is this season. We want people to talk about how good the defense played, not about how well the other team’s offense was.”

Words that will sound like music to every Mountaineer fans’ ears.