Overlooked in the steady progression of Coach Pat Kirkland's University of Charleston football program has been its defense.
In winning seven of its eight contests this season and nine of its last 10 dating to Nov. 5, 2011, the Golden Eagles have surrendered more than 20 points just twice.
The pinnacle of the improvement came last week in their West Virginia Conference showdown at West Liberty when the Hilltoppers gained eight yards on their first possession and 15 on their second.
When the game concluded, West Liberty had 176 total yards and averaged 2.5 yards per carry.
The Golden Eagles (7-1, 4-1 WVC), ranked No. 25 in the AFCA NCAA Division II rankings, visit Glenville State (4-4, 4-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Pioneers will present UC with a balanced attack, led by running back Rahmann Lee (136 carries, 888 yards, eight touchdowns) and quarterback Darold Hughes (106-of-183, 1,115 yards, 11 touchdowns).
UC will counter with an opportunistic defense that is ranked eighth in NCAA Division II, and a pass defense ranked 16th.
Through eight games in 2012, UC is tied with Glenville at a half-game behind Shepherd in the WVC standings. Through eight games in 2011, the Golden Eagles UC was 2-6 and 2-3 in conference games.
Sophomore defensive back Isaiah Gibson acknowledges a huge difference in the defense.
"We took it all the way back to square one," said Gibson, a native of Hampton, Va. "Starting in the spring. From drills to practice. They told us, don't even go fast, just worry about technique. I credit it to technique. We knew that's what it was last year."