Defensive line coach Jordan Lesley didn’t hesitate when asked for a player that has stood out with the improvements he has made on the football field this fall.
“Number one is Jeffery Pooler and the level that he’s played at,” he said.
The redshirt senior has started all six games, playing 67-percent of the snaps up front but at times has been the forgotten man for the Mountaineers. That isn’t due to his production, as he’s recorded 17 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble but more because of who he plays next to.
Because Darius and Dante Sills have gotten so much attention, it has overshadowed what Pooler has done along the defensive front but it shouldn’t. If you’re paying attention No. 9 is making his presence known for the West Virginia defensive front.
“Jeff is playing really good football right now and really it’s because he’s playing hard,” Lesley said.
That’s part of the message from Lesley and stuck with Pooler since he took the job. It’s as simple as the X’s and O’s don’t move on the board when they’re drawn up, the players have to do it themselves. If you play with effort, physicality and intensity good things can happen.
“The plays will start coming to you,” he said.
Pooler has bounced around the defensive front during his time in Morgantown but has settled into a role as a defensive end in Lesley’s aggressive defensive line. During that time, he’s also acquired a lot of knowledge on how to handle a pass rush regardless where he is lined up on a given play.
“When you go inside you’re trying to get past and defeat what’s right in front of you so it’s always quick right at the snap of the ball. But at the defensive end position, the tackles kick back so you get into a little stride before you work in moves against those guys,” he said.
That pass rushing element is something that Pooler believed he had to improve upon coming into his redshirt senior season and while he’s not where he wants to be he is definitely better than last year.
The defensive line is asked to do a variety of stunts and twists, which creates problems for opposing offenses. That is something that they practice a lot so they understand how to attack teams.
“He just creates different ways to do the same things we do. He creates a different look at it,” he said.
The good news is that because of rule changes, Pooler will have the option to come back for a sixth year if he chooses to do so but at this point he’s still figuring out his future.
So for now he’ll let his effort do the talking.
“I haven’t thought about that yet or made a decision about that,” he said.