MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While watching highlights this week of Oklahoma State in hurry-up mode (and Baylor in skull-burning warp-speed mode), the preseason agenda of Keith Patterson kept coming back. You remember August, right? Back when everyone—myself included—was foolishly worried about WVU’s defense being the problem?

Patterson spent the entirety of camp schooling the Mountaineers in base defensive principles, regardless of down-and-distance situations that warranted more elaborate packages. Third-and-short? Forget bringing in the heavies, stick with base. Third-and-long? Forget the nickel, stick with base. Patterson’s rationale was two-pronged:

♦ WVU had tried to implement too many specialty alignments during the 2012 camp and players wound up becoming brain-locked.

♦ When Big 12 uptempo offenses are humming, defenses typically are forced to stick with base alignments anyway; so Patterson figured it best to get his guys comfortably aggressive within the simple scheme before implementing add-ons.

While Oklahoma showed some no-huddle in Week 2, West Virginia’s first elongated look at an uptempo offense comes Saturday, when Oklahoma State can go from pile-up to lining up in a matter of seconds.

Linebacker Jared Barber’s description of his post-tackle checklist takes longer to read than it does to transpire: “Get your eyes on the sideline. Hustle back to the ball. Get as much information as you can before the ball is snapped.”

Even though WVU feels better equipped to combat the quick-hitters this season, Barber’s inside linebacker mate Doug Rigg admits even sound defenses can struggle against the likes of OSU.

“They do a good job of putting you in bad situations,” he said. “If we get lined up, we could have a good game against them, but it’s hard to get lined up. As soon as they run the play they’re on the ball already.”

And getting lined up represents only half the equation. Being in the right place, but being there without a disruptive mindset, won’t get it done for a defense—not when read-option quarterback J.W. Walsh is poking 6-yard gains into the soft spots or zipping short passes to receivers in space.

“The biggest thing is you can’t be soft,” Rigg said. “You’ve got to attack while they’re tempoing you. If you don’t, they’ll kill you with it.”

After the mauling WVU absorbed at Maryland, Big 12 powers such as OSU seem positioned to keep the embarrassment coming. The late-breaking news Thursday night that Clint Trickett will replace injured quarterback Ford Childress obviously presents a variable, though Trickett on his worst day—or Paul Millard, for that matter—can’t suffer more than Childress did in Baltimore.

A 4-8 record in its last 12 games—including five defeats by 21 points or worse—stands as mounting evidence WVU’s program isn’t on solid footing. You didn’t need a Public Policy Poll to realize Dana Holgorsen’s job approval rating was suffering this week (but as a footnote, his favorability rating has whittled to 18 percent). A non-spirited showing on Saturday against the No. 11 team in the country, would really bring some howls.

While I don’t foresee West Virginia getting buried, neither do I see grounds for an upset.

Pick: Oklahoma State 26-17

Ranking the other Big 12 games:

1. Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 21: (Sooners -3.5) This game hinges on OU’s talented offensive line clearing running paths through that knee-high grass in South Bend. (Seriously, is it Catholic sin to drop the mower blade a notch?) Last year, you’ll recall, Notre Dame surrendered only 15 rushing yards in Norman, part of a 30-13 beatdown that legitimized the Irish’s climb into the BCS title game. Now it’s unbeaten and 14th-ranked Oklahoma (3-0) in search of legitimacy after three home wins against Louisiana-Monroe, Tulsa and WVU. Watch as the Irish make better use of DaVaris Daniels; after all, Tommy Rees can’t keep missing open receivers.

2. TCU 33, SMU 16: (Horned Frogs -19) In Fort Worth, they’re playing for the Iron Skillet (and if you order within the next 15 minutes, a set of Ginsu knives) Both teams are 1-2, but don’t confuse these rosters talent-wise. TCU gave LSU a fight and then got downright jobbed in Lubbock, whereas SMU needed a last-second TD pass to nip FCS member Montana State.

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    Another week of the local media backing the home team. Sad! Sad! Sad!
    "Go Mountaineers"

    • TruthTeller

      Actually local papers are the worst supporters of WVU. They always brag about the other teams and always make WVU sound like its the worst team to ever play the game. They should be ashamed of themselves. Most of them probably did not go to WVU so they don't care.

  • James

    Jim has a point. Big East teams werent in the caliber of big 12 teams, and we will have to step up our game in all aspects to compete. Not just the players, but coaches as well, which includes recruiting. I dont like Holgerson's personality quite frankly, but I dont care as long as he is the best guy for the job. He has a good track record as an O.C, and while we all know head coaching is different, I think he will be fine. He has already proven when he has the weapons in place, we can put up the points. Its hard to replace the talent we lost last year, but there will be others that eventually step up. It may not happen this year, but it will.

  • Imgrill

    Wonders why those that gate all things wvu always read and post on every article? I don't care for you and I make it a point to avoid you. Just sayin.

    • Billy

      Thanks, I take that as a positive, and you too are welcome. Just remember The Ole Chrystal Ball never lies.

      • wvman75

        It lied now, didn't it?

  • Billy

    Looking into the Ole Crystal Ball, it becomes clear OKS by 7 touchdowns and 1 fg and throw in a safety with all extra points made for a total of 54 points. WVU scores a late touchdown, makes the extra point for its only score.

    • Mister Man

      So. you might want to get rid of the Ole Crystal Ball. The Mountaineers won 30-21.

    • Game Over

      I concur!

  • Game Over

    This game is over before it has started. WVU is outmatched and outclassed. They can't compete with the big boys. Oklahoma State is going to bury them! 56-10. Game over man.

    • Mister Man

      "They" can't compete with the big boys? Yes "We" can. We not only competed with them, we won 30-21.

  • wvman75

    It seems we live in an age of trolls and doomsdayers. WVU 35 OSU 21

    • Mister Man

      Post game comment: We won 30 - 21. Great job!!

    • 2019jones

      Good luck with that LOL....

      • wvman75

        Who's laughing now, knothead? Good luck with THAT.

  • leroy j gibbs

    Ok st 21 wvu 3

  • Outdoor Man

    I'm playing in a golf tournament this saturday afternoon,didn't want to miss the game,but if they play like they did last saturday,I'd have kicked myself for not playing golf.I WILL record the game and watch it later( good OR bad ) Still hoping for a good year!! Gooooooo Mountaineers!!

    • TruthTeller

      Spoken like a true fair weather fan to me. WVU has been beating WVU. You can't win games if you turn the ball over six times. WVU could easily
      be 4-0. Mental mistakes is why WVU is not 4-0

  • Chris

    Time will tell of what we will do in the Big 12 being we are the new kid on the block.

  • MountainMover

    If we don't block then we won't win.

  • Janem

    Looks like the defense has got a better understanding I think they can hold the Cowboys... We have a running quarterback and that could make us with like a 12 man team... It can be a problem to the defense...... Oklahoma will beat Notre Dame because they cannot contain a running quarterback Michigan for example... TCU will be bet SMU they are stronger and will out muscle them.. Big upset in Morgantown ....hooray hooray

  • Jim

    This is crazy that Holgorsen is on any kind of hot seat. West Virginia is getting whipped up front, not sure they could block me.

    West Virginia will get what they need up front eventually. If anyone expects the kind of success in the Big 12 that WVU had in the Big East, then you are ignorant of the facts. The Big 12 is better; 9 or 10 win seasons will not happen at WV no matter who coaches, but if we leave Holgorsen alone you will see good teams with the occasional run at 10 wins and maybe more.

    WV is not Oklahoma or Texas, accept it.

    • Dana's Hot Seat

      Dana is arrogant. This experiment is over. WV will be on the other side of the next 70-33 game but at least we still got the billboards.

    • Cliff w


    • Justin

      jim we got beat 37-0 by maryland. nothing to do with the big 12. texas and oklahoma arent as good as they used to be. wv stinks and holgorson is overpaid and not getting the job done. end of story

  • tw eagle

    be careful Mr Taylor, didn't you learn anything from the Gee jokes ? poke fun at the papists and you lose your job . . .
    and i'm just beginning to appreciate your work ...

  • Dougie

    Last year I loved watching the offense pour it on. This year, the best part about watching the mounties, is seeing Joseph, Cook and Bell deliver monster hits. I hope the boys bring it to even another level this weekend to give our offense a chance to find some rhythmn...

  • pghmountaineer

    It looks like the defense is improved from last year. Unless the O Line steps up and opens up some running lanes it will be a long afternoon no matter who we play. Here's hoping for the best!
    Go EEEERS!