Unlike its counterpart on the offensive side of the ball, the experience and depth of the WVU defensive line is expected to help anchor the team this season.
Because of WVU’s unusual 3-3-5 stack defense, the Mountaineers play a three man line, which is expected to plug up gaps, occupy double teams, and create chaos so linebackers can make tackles.
They are not expected, specifically, to be pass rushers. Most of WVU’s sacks come from blitzing linebackers and defensive backs.
That being said, if this line has sufficient talent and speed, it can get into the backfield on its own. Look back to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma, where massive but slow offensive linemen couldn’t contain WVU’s speedy pass rushers without being called for holding penalties.
The leader of the defensive line this year is Scooter Berry, who seems like an ninth year senior. Berry has been at WVU since 2006 and came along originally as a fullback with his half-brother Jason Gwaltney, a highly recruited running back now largely lost to history, who ate, injured, and slacked his way out of WVU numerous times.
Thankfully, Berry didn’t get his kin’s work ethic.
After switching to defensive line, Berry has found a home as a strong and fast pass rusher with good hands. At 6'1'' tall and nearly 300 pounds, the redshirt junior is tough to move around.
Next to Berry is nose tackle Chris Neild (seen in the photo above), who came on strong last year in a largely thankless role, noticed much more by coaches and opposing players than fans. Neild, a 6'2'', nearly 300 pound redshirt junior, is being hailed by coaches as one to watch this season.
Here’s all he did last season, which is not bad for a guy expected to do nothing else but stand his ground: 47 tackles, including 17 solo, 2.5 sacks, and 4.5 tackles for loss. He also had a forced fumble.
The battle for the third spot on the defensive line is between rangy 6'4'', 250 pound redshirt sophomore Julian Miller and 6'3'', 250 pound redshirt junior Larry Ford.
Of course, if the Hawaiian Yeti ever materializes in Morgantown, he could see playing time, as well.
Here, we refer to the mysterious Tevita Finau, the now-legendary junior college player who has submitted three—count ‘em—three commitment letters to WVU and whose academic record and transcript are apparently as complicated and hard to transfer as ownership of the Raiders to someone that knows what they're doingl.
This cat is supposed to be big—6'5'' and 250 pounds—and fast, a natural pass rushing blitz machine. That is, if he actually exists.
I will go on record here and now saying that Finau will not play one down—ever—for the Mountaineers, and will be pleased if I am proved wrong.
Even if he makes it through all the NCAA hoops and gets to Morgantown, there’s no guarantee that he can actually play, and play well, at the Big East level.
Here's some video that allegedly shows Finau, but I can’t swear that it’s not an elaborate CGI hoax.