MORGANTOWN — Look no further than Sean Mahone’s 4th-quarter interception last week against Texas to see the type of impact defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor’s impact on the WVU defense.
While Mahone got the tick in the stat sheet and was heralded one of the heroes in the Mountaineers’ 31-23 win over the Longhorns, it was Mesidor’s effort that forced Texas quarterback Casey Thompson to make a bad throw over the middle. He was inches away from pulling Thompson down for a sack, but instead, his effort went unnoticed to most of the nearly 50,000 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium.
It didn’t go unnoticed to defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley — Mesidor is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do as the nose tackle in the middle of the Mountaineers’ defensive front.
“If I look at the production, it’s probably down a little bit,” Lesley said. “I don’t know the exact numbers, but a lot of what we’re asking him to do is not fair to him. If you look at a lot of plays other guys are making, a lot of it is because of the skill set that he is getting on the interior, whether it’s against the run game or a pass rush.
“That was just what he needed to miss his receiver and hit Sean Mahone. All he had to do was catch the ball. A great play by Sean, but it was caused by Akheem Mesidor. I’m the only one that’s going to know that and point out to him, it’s not going to show up on a stat sheet. It goes back to having defensive linemen understand not every successful pass rush is a sack.”
After having five sacks during 10 games in 2020 as a true freshman, Mesidor has just 3 1/2 sacks through 11 this season with seven tackles for loss.
Mesidor admits the lack of production in the stat column is frustrating, but taking up blocks is part of his responsibility, allowing his teammates to clean up and pursue the balls.
“My production seems like it has been not as well as it was at the beginning of the year, but as a nose guard you get double-teamed 90% of the game,” Mesidor said.
“I really want to get tackles, sacks and tackles for loss, but what’s most important is doing my job. If I have to take up double teams to free up linebackers or take up double teams so my teammates can have 1-on-1 opportunities, I’m glad to do it.”
Mesidor and the Mountaineers will take on Kansas at 7 p.m. Saturday in Lawrence, Kan.