MORGANTOWN - Knowing that most of the West Virginia University football coaching staff has some sort of familiarity with the Big 12 Conference should help as the Mountaineers implement their new defensive scheme.
The Mountaineers embark on their rookie season in the highly competitive conference this fall, and some pundits have predicted West Virginia will finish second in the league behind perennial power Oklahoma.
"Knowing that our coaches have come from the Big 12, I feel like we have a lot of confidence," defensive back Brodrick Jenkins said. "I feel like with the players that we have now, we can go into the Big 12 and take this defense and really use it to our advantage."
The defense will definitely be challenged in the offensive-minded conference.
Five of the conference's starting quarterbacks have been tabbed on the Davey O'Brien preseason "Watch List." That award is given to the nation's top college quarterback.
"I think the coaches have done a really good job of taking it slow and letting us learn (the new defense) day by day, letting us make our mistakes and then fixing it," linebacker Jared Barber said. "I think it has worked out really well, and it's going to benefit us."
The West Virginia University defensive players have been challenged by their teammates on the other side of the ball on a daily basis.
Though the competition has often times turned a little more than feisty, that competition should make both sides better.
"They are our opponent, and we are their opponent," defensive lineman J.B. Lageman said. "We just try to compete as hard as we can. We have gotten scrappy a couple of days, but overall, we are just trying to get better and help each other."
Jenkins said he likes the intensity of practices, and he thinks the scrappiness will be a positive aspect to the season, which starts Sept. 1 in Morgantown with a non-conference game against in-state rival Marshall.
"I like that both sides are competing and trying to get better," Jenkins said. "It looks like we could have a real good squad if we keep it up."