Though he tweaked alignments and began making adjustments throughout December’s bowl practices, newly promoted coordinator Keith Patterson couldn’t change the mentality that hampered West Virginia’s defense all season.
“That one bad play happens and whooooosh, it’s like we go south and we go into the tank,” said Patterson after his defense allowed 369 rushing yards in a 38-14 Pinstripe Bowl loss to Syracuse. “That seems to have been the tendency all year long.”
Now comes the time for the real transition — the offseason conditioning program, that will run concurrently with Patterson and head coach Dana Holgorsen evaluating how to rebuild a defense that was among the nation’s worst this season.
“That’s where you make your team: It starts as soon as we get back and start winter conditioning,” Patterson said. “That’s where you have to instill all these traits and these qualities that I’m talking about.”
What does Patterson envision for 2013 and beyond as WVU tries to slow down Big 12 offenses?
“I want to be a multiple, attacking 3-4 defense, and to do that you have to be disciplined, you have to be very passionate and you have to be able to attack,” Patterson said. “I do not believe you can allow quarterbacks to sit back there and comb their hair and throw the football. They’re too good, too well-versed, and the receivers are too good at moving into the open voids.”
The next month also will be crucial for recruiting, though Patterson said the staff already has begun targeting the kind of athletes who fit the 3-4.
“We have to recruit to this system. You can’t just sit there and say, ‘Let’s squeeze a square peg into a round hole,’” he said. “You have to make sure you have the right guys.
“We want to have long, lean athleticism at linebackers, guys who can make plays in open space. How many times did we have people at the point of attack and we don’t make the best of those opportunities?”