In Defense of WVU Coach Joe Deforest

By George O’Bryan

Lambert Kansas

In 2014, we heard fans yelling for Coach Joe DeForest’s head, and I have never really understood this. He was the one who turned the play of the safeties around. It has also been DeForest that improved the kicking game.

It appears to me that Coach DeForest is one of WVU’s best coaching commodities. It was made apparent in 2014 that WVU finally has a defensive coaching staff that knows what they’re doing and can readily coach together.

WVU fans saw improved special teams play in 2014. There were some mental errors, especially by the punt returners that caused fans to rip into DeForest and call for him to be fired.

They either don’t remember or prefer not to that even before Holgorsen arrived, WVU special teams play was poor. It is much improved over what it was even under Coach Rich Rodriguez.

No single coach is responsible for every player on special teams. We are not talking about a unit with 11 players that simply have to be taught techniques in a couple of areas.

There is a kickoff team, a kickoff receiving team, a punting team, a punt receiving team, an extra point team, and a field goal team. Do you truly hold one coach responsible for all of those teams?

The primary problem on special teams was the inability to successfully and correctly return or fair catch a punt. Did you notice the WVU return man was usually surrounded by several of the opponenent’s players no more than inches away when the punt reached him? No wonder he had problems.

Who was coaching the players that were supposed to block for the return man? It may have been DeForest, but it was likely someone else assisting with the punt return team. Do you blame the offensive coordinator when the offensive linemen are unable to run block?

3 thoughts on “In Defense of WVU Coach Joe Deforest

  1. If you can’t see the incompetence on special teams then you weren’t paying attention. Kicking deep to Oklahoma right before halftime instead of a squib kick directly killed the momentum and cost WVU that game. Hell he should be fired for no other reason than his incompetence as a d coordinator in 2012 directly lost 3 winnable games. Worst $500,000 a year coach ever. I don’t care if he is Dana’s drinking buddy- he needs canned. If Dana wants him around out him in charge of washing jock straps. Even he couldn’t screw that up I wouldn’t think .

  2. Nice assessment. 2015 will effectively be an audition for all coaching positions in WVU athletics for Athletic Director Lyons.

    While he will in some instances bring in his own hires, you generally do not fire a winner or retain a loser.

  3. Anyone wondering why Joe D needs to go, or at the very least get a substantial salary reduction (which is apparently happening), need only read this article and realize that it is in SUPPORT of DeForest.
    If anything the safety play improved once JD became the special teams coach. IMO anyone wishing to support JD should certainly not talk about any of his work with the defense, all of which improved immensely after he was taken off defensive coaching.

    If the best you can say in defense of poor play is that it was worse before, you have a fairly weak endorsement.

    If you’re the special teams coordinator, then ALL of special teams is your responsibility even if other coaches are helping with certain areas of special teams.

    It may be tough to get a lot of return yards with good coverage by the opposition, but the ST coach has the responsibility to make certain that the punt returner knows when to catch the ball and attempt a return, make a fair catch, or let the ball land on the field and stay away. There are specific universal rules of thumb guidelines for all of that, and our return guys have routinely either not known them, forgot, or ignored them under DeForest’s tenure.

    On the plus side, he has recruited and brought in some talented kickers, especially Lambert and O’Toole. The Stache didn’t punt as well much of this season, but there are indications that may have been due to injury and/or technique issues. (Of course correcting technique falls to coaching as well.).

    Joe seems like a nice guy, and his half mil salary was due to being originally hired as the DC. I’m OK with giving him a chance to continue improving special teams at a substantially reduce salary so that the money can be spent keeping other good coaches such as Gibson, Bradly and others.

    But the improvement should be substantial, and it should be in 2015.

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