MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though Keith Patterson says he tries not to look in the rear-view mirror, it’s impossible not to sneak a peak back at the defensive carnage left from Sept. 29, 2012, the day West Virginia beat Baylor 70-63 in the highest-scoring game Big 12 football has ever witnessed.

Rob Christy-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor receiver Tevin Reese, who sprang free against West Virginia in last season’s 70-63 loss, is one of seven Bears averaging more than 21 yards per catch this fall.

The Mountaineers piled up 10 touchdowns and 807 yards, needing every bit of that to counter Baylor’s nine TDs and 700 yards. Though WVU won its Big 12 debut, Patterson considered it a day to live in defensive infamy.

“I tried to block that out of my mind,” he said.

Almost exactly one year forward, West Virginia ranks third in the conference in total defense at 345 yards per game—some 127 yards lower than the WVU defense in Patterson’s rear-view mirror.

The improvement has coincided with numerous factors: Patterson taking over for Joe DeForest as defensive coordinator, returning players showing more resilience, and three newcomers making immediate contributions.

All those components were on display in the fourth quarter last week when the Mountaineers turned back No. 11 Oklahoma State at the goal line.

Leading 24-21, safety Karl Joseph separated a third-down pass from OSU receiver Josh Stewart in the end zone. But a facemask flag away from the play restored the Cowboys to first-and-goal at the 3.

Jeremy Smith, the Big 12 leader in touchdowns and a short-yardage load at 210 pounds, carried off right tackle and seemed headed for the goal line until being stood up by safety Darwin Cook.

On second down at the 1, J.W. Walsh tried a fade route into the deep corner where WVU’s Travis Bell batted down the pass.

Then came third down, where OSU ran wide with Smith only to see juco transfer Dontrill Hyman blow up the play for a 5-yard loss.

“(Hyman) just had a tremendous explosion off the ball,” Patterson said. “He was out of his stance before that guard took his hand off the ground.”

When Oklahoma State flubbed the subsequent field-goal attempt, West Virginia had the momentum to finish off a 30-21 upset, and Patterson saw first-hand how much his defensive players had developed.

“They have a physically tough, mentally tough edge to them,” he said.

That edge wasn’t apparent only during the 16-7 loss at Oklahoma or the upset of OSU; but Patterson saw progress during the 37-0 loss at Maryland, when his guys were down 30 points yet played “like it was the second half of the Super Bowl.”

Now comes a rematch in Waco against No. 17 Baylor, the nation’s most dangerous offense through the season’s first month. A fast-striking unit brandishing more weapons than the one from 2012 Patterson tried to block from his mind.

With the Bears propped up as four-touchdown favorites, outsiders don’t figure WVU’s defense can improved enough to keep this week’s game competitive. Yet Patterson views it as another stress test for his unit to prove itself.

“A diamond doesn’t become a diamond unless it undergoes intense heat and pressure,” he said. “So I’m looking for a bunch of diamonds.”

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  • TruthTeller

    Don't you just love it how every week WVU is the underdog and WVU is picked to lose by 3 touchdowns? Just keep climbing that hater mountain Mountaineers!!!!

  • TruthTeller

    It is not what you wear that matters, it is not how much money you have that matters, it does not matter where you live, or what you drive. None of those things will have an effect on a football game or life itself. It is about character. Most of you so called men in America fail to realize that. You have no character and are cowards. You try to fill in that emptiness in your life with all your man toys thinking that makes you a man. You men are fools. Its about character. Stop being a TV head and try to love all the material things in this world. You better get right with God because that is what really matters!!!!!

    • Big Larry


  • ron51

    big larry did you not get enough crow last week

  • Big Larry and William

    hi ya'll. we are tools. we are trolls. we are thundering terd fans who only write negative comments on wvu message boards because we dont have anything else better to do.

    • Dougie

      and your point is?

    • Darren

      You are who we thought u are. lol

  • Dougie

    I have never seen a more impressive turnaround in one season than our defense has made. I truly believe last year was the worst defense I have ever seen for a WVU team and I have been watching them for 30 years. This year they have been very impressive! They have the potential to be one of our best defenses of all time next year if they continue to improve and don't suffer any major injuries...

  • Big Larry

    Baylor - 70
    WVU - -3

    • Big Larry and William


  • Tusker

    Here's an idea: let's ignore them! Every response to these parasites encourages them to keep posting.

    Dang right Cook stood that Cowgirl up!! As good reading about it on paper as it was watching it on the LCD. WVU!

    • Big Larry

      I hope how soon that Metro News follows suit and goes to the Facebook format...that way, it will eliminate all the impostors who think they are me....

      • Larry

        Something tells me it won't be long.

  • Larry

    I know Baylor has been scoring a lot of points, and giving up very few, I also know that like OK State, they have played nobody to this point, I am going to predict a close WV win.

  • wvajoker

    Hot Dog!!! More pearls of wisdom from the Auspicious one --Slick William

    And he also has brought his partner in crime (or something) The Great One, Big Larry,with his basket of negativity.

  • pghmountaineer

    No matter what happens Saturday, I believe the Defense is much improved over last year.
    I think they will keep us in the game and give us a chance to pull off another suprise.

  • tw eagle

    last year in Morgantown , Mandrake the Magician couldn't have have fixed the Mountaineer D ... even if he managed to
    disguise Superman and slip him into games as a ringer ... but Keith Patterson is a solid coach ... he recognizes kids with the will to play hard and the ability to be coached . . .we'll have a good D in Morgantown as long as he hangs around ... if coach Patterson has the yearning to be a HC , all the money or length of contract will not hold him in Morgantown ... I remember Barber as a freshman, horrible technique but a "nose" for the ball and a knack for making big stops ... the last two games I have seen him blossom into a solid MLB ... this year's D is good, next year looks even better ... if Dillon and Worley continue to develop I see them as the best tandem corners in the ncaa ... if I were the D coach and coordinator i'd play man every game, every down ...

    • Allan Taylor

      @tw eagle: Corners are improved for sure, but playing man with them at this point could be bad news. Patterson is trying to give them as much help as possible—doesn't want them exposed and all that confidence-building undone.

      • tw eagle

        NO NO NO ... not now, next season with Dillon and Worley ... being able to keep 7 and 8 men stuffing the run next year ought to launch the WVU program back into the stratosphere ... especially if we can start the season by ambushing Alabama ...

  • JaneM

    I don't get it , 5 post out of 7 are William ...Big Larry

    • Steve

      Of course they are! WVU just won another big time game against a big time team. Guys like Big Larry and William hate the fact that WVU is having a better year than what they predicted. They hate the fact that their beloved Thundering Herd are pathetic this year and can't beat any big time teams.

  • Little Bill

    The only thing either one of them has said that any truth.

  • WV07

    William= loser who never reached his potential.

  • William

    I too am a loser with no friends or family and have no life. My name is...... sad lonely man with no purpose but to find the negative in everything.

    • mauldawg

      I bet you and Big Larry live together. Maybe brothers,lovers or Son and Dad. Come on tell us which one is correct.

    • William