MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2012 West Virginia defense, which we’re compelled to mention one more time, allowed an abysmal 472 yards per game. So when the 2013 West Virginia defense opened its redemption campaign by giving up 201 yards in a half to an FCS team, the here-we-go-again alarms  clanged fervently.

Yet Keith Patterson, the coordinator charged with turning around that defense, didn’t blink when his unit came looking for halftime adjustments.

“There’s no magic call, there’s no magic adjustment,” he said. “Why would you sit here and work on something for four weeks of fall camp and all of a sudden come in and make some great halftime adjustment? How about do what you’re coached to do.”

WVU responded by pitching a second-half shutout when William & Mary’s five possessions resulted in three punts, an interception and a missed 42-yard field goal.

“In the second half you could tell our kids were far more comfortable,” said Patterson, attributing the early busts to nerves and over-aggression.

Joe Sadlek/All-Pro Photography

Doug Rigg registers WVU’s lone sack Saturday against William & Mary.

“We just kept telling them, ‘Look, don’t play outside the framework of the defense.’ Sometimes kids with all the right intentions want to make plays … but they weren’t taking care of their own responsibilities.”

William & Mary managed only 108 yards in the second half, though its per-play production only dipped from 5.5 to 4.9 yards. The distinction came on third downs, where the Tribe slipped from 5-of-10 in the first half to 0-of-4 afterward.

Patterson sounded concerned that his unit netted only one turnover—two shy of its per-game goal. Then again, Darwin Cook’s game-clinching interception was timely, and the scoreboard remain the most meaningful stat.

“They don’t give style points for victory,” Patterson said. “At the end of the year it’s going to count as a win, and that’s all that really matters.”

Though his interception of Michael Graham preserved WVU’s lead in the final stages, Cook wasn’t gloating.

“I saw his eyes—he doesn’t really look off his receivers,” Cook said. “So it really wasn’t that hard. The D-line forced the pressure, and he threw an easy pick. It wasn’t nothing too courageous.”

After making only one interception last season, Cook has four in his career.

Though he racked up 108 yards receiving and set up both of William & Mary’s touchdowns, Tre McBride didn’t view Saturday’s performance as any sort of individual validation or a feather for his FCS teammates. He viewed the near-upset as nothing more than a loss.

“I honestly don’t think there’s anything to be happy about,” the junior receiver said. “There were some highlights and we came into the halftime with the lead, but at the end of the day we still lost. There’s nothing to be excited about—we don’t want a pity party.

“But what we will do is we’re going to throw this game behind us and we’re going to work to smash everybody else on our schedule.”

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  • Bendova

    I agree 100% with Steve.
    What happens if we do beat OU next week? What will they be tearing the Mountaineers apart for then? As a matter of fact, why do I even care.

  • Steve

    Wow, if I'm a stud recruit and I read this website, I am going to rush out and sign with Pitt, Va Tech, Penn State, anyone but WVU. The mountaineers do not need enemies when you guys are around. Mountaineer fans have always been the back bone of the Mountaineers. We have always been proud, win or lose. You guys are getting outside the box. Our fans help recruit, they don't bad mouth a team in need. I have seen the good,the bad, and the ugly but I have never bad mouthed the Eers. We probably have one of The toughest recruiting venues in the nation and we do alright.
    One game of a season does not make a season, I agree with some of the other folks, we need to support not bad mouth. There are a lot of positives look at them, get on the Mountaineer wagon and let's go.

    • eliotz

      You're right. You should post this comment in all of the articles because these kids are hammering the team and coaching in every comment forum.

  • John Hobbs

    The D looks much improved, we could not get off the field last year on third down against anyone. It appears that our special teams are much improved, but we need to improve on punt returns, but we nearly blocked 2 punts. The bright spot on offense is now we can run the ball, and we will get better and better. We're playing a lot of young players so there will be growing pains, so don't throw in the towel yet

  • eliotz

    A few of you should have lived through the late 70's when Cignetti was coach and we played Pitt, Penn St, Va Tech, Maryland, Miami every year and got beat up most of the time. We marched from the Lair across the street to Mountaineer Field every Saturday and enjoyed every game as proud Mountaineers. The best we had to hope for was a win over PITT or Penn St., which was the equivalent to playing for the National Championship since, and almost as often. Looking back, the fans were true, Blue Mountaineers who wanted a real nationally known coach, and some national respect someday. OL was one of us back then. He remembers now and thats why he's built the program as he has. You can bet if Holgs doesn't produce a nationally ranked team this year and again next year, he will be gone. OL won't let us be that WV ever again. Count on it.

  • Carl

    And it was the first game for most of the team so how bout giving them a chance and not be so impatient

    • bva24

      It was established five years ago that 9 wins were not acceptable.

      And spare me about the Big 12 being great. The Big 12 sucks this year. A third of the league lost to - or almost lost to - high school teams this weekend.

  • Carl

    Seriously some of you people need to just start rooting for a different team...I swear wvu could go undefeated and allow 0 points a game and you tards would still find something to whine about...hate to break it to you but wvu is not a powerhouse that's gonna run all over quit expecting that. They r gonna have to fight tooth and nail for their wins. And if your a true fan you would root for them no matter what. And I'm sorry but I would take Dana over any coach we've had. I would love to see some of you idiots get out there and do wut the coaches do and then run your ignorant mouths. Sit back and relax and root for our team win or lose and have some freaking pride.

  • derek

    Why don't we try to go after that Mcbride kid if he has some time left next yr. D made changes that worked and really a couple big plays in the 1st half. Not bad deep coverage and that bubble screen needs tuned in.

  • Bendova

    You people expect Holgorson to poop a national champion season in 3 years?
    You think Rich Rod, who couldn't lead a one car funeral, or go get em LADS Stewart would have us sitting right?
    I think WVU has made good strides and are going to be better in the future. I'm not going to be a bandwagon jumper like the rest of you idiots. Go WVU.

    • bva24

      DH didn't inherit a program in shambles. All he had to do was bring in a couple of decent recruiting classes to increase numbers. A huge culture change wasn't needed here. We were winning 9-10 games per season.

      Charlie Strong took over a total trainwreck at Louisville in 2010. They are now a powerhouse team. That's coaching.

      We've got a fraud masquerading as a head coach. This season is going to be ugly. Next year will be worse. Maybe Nick Saban will show some mercy and cancel the opener next season.

  • Bendova guys call yourselves mountaineers. Or better yet, West Virginian.....
    This is the saddest group of fans ever. This team came from behind to win a game. And they did it with the complete mystery of what the offense, and defense could do.
    It only gets better from here.
    And if not, go WVU regardless. Who cares if its w&m or not. Go mountaineers.

  • Lo boy

    Any thoughts on who else we will beat? The only teams that come to mind are Georgia State, Kansas, and maybe either Maryland or K State.

    • bva24

      Maryland will destroy this team. We are lucky that the Big 12 is awful this year. Don't kid yourself about how strong the league is this season. There are four good teams, 1 decent team, then everybody else is average to below average.

      The only possible wins left are Ga St, K-State, Kansas, and Iowa St. That gets us to five wins.

      But, two of those are on the road...3 wins is a distinct possibility.

  • WVAtty

    You guys kill me .. Could be worse. We could be K State or Oregon State this morning.

    There were bright spots,but you naysayers ignore them.
    Charles Sims is a stud
    We have have awesome new receivers
    The defense pitched a shutout in the second half and showed some pride
    The punter is 1000x better than last year.

    The list goes on and on ..
    If you can't something nice, go away.

    • LuvDubVU

      Agreed WVAtty. A lot of things to be positive about - especially the D rallying in the 2nd half

    • bva24

      Bill whooped us in the first half, but Mary didn't have a chance against Red Bull boy in the second!

    • Martinsburg

      LoL K....

  • Lo boy

    I never thought I would say this, but I miss Rich Rod. Other than the Orange Bowl, I cannot get excited about WVU football anymore. Wrong conference, no excitement, too many excuses!!!!!!!!!

  • wirerowe

    Good second half D

  • David

    Our defensive backs still don't look for the ball. It just amazes me how they constantly get beat when the ball comes over their shoulder, the receiver is watching the ball come in and they haven't a clue.

  • Lo boy

    It is going to be a long year.

    • Martinsburg

      Begrudgingly, I agree. I was at yesterday's game, and I know there are a ton of new faces on the team, but it looked awful.

      The defense will get torched through the air again this year. You can see the same mistakes being made as last year... Blown coverages left and right, DBs not looking for the ball etc.... Even if the offense does improve and find an identity, the defense will be what loses games for us. Personally I believe there is simply a lack of big 12 level talent on this defense as well as poor coaching..

      Gonna be a long season folks...