The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Bob Herzel

October 31, 2013

Third-down defense came back to bite WVU

MORGANTOWN — Keith Patterson is a football lifer, the West Virginia University defensive coordinator’s coaching career stretching back to 1986, the first 16 years of it coaching high school football in Texas and Oklahoma.

He thought he’d seen almost everything possible on a football field … until West Virginia played at Kansas State this past Saturday.

“I’ve probably said this on more than one occasion; it was probably one of the strangest games I’ve been associated with,” he said.

Strange?

To most people it simply looked as though the Wildcats overwhelmed WVU, but Patterson would beg to differ with that assessment. See, through much of that Patterson felt secure in what his defense was doing.

“To feel like we were in such control – they were 1-for-6 on third downs going into their third possession of that the second half,” he pointed out.

Mark that down – 1-for-6 on third downs, right up until the Wildcats drove to take the lead.

“We were stopping the run. Then we got them into third-and-6, third-and-11 and third-and-goal from the 9 on the possession that put them ahead 14-12. That was the key possession of the game, I thought.”

Indeed it was. It was as if the teams changed uniforms.

“You have to give them credit. They executed; we didn’t. That was probably the most troubling part of watching that game. Our kids, it absolutely made them sick. Just take care of you responsibility on those seven critical plays in the second half …” Patterson said, his voice trailing off.

“I don’t know if they can score again if we do that. Three plays, critical situations, we have to be able to get off the field and it changes the game. It wasn’t like they made some great adjustment.”

In fact, Patterson said they changed nothing.

“That stuff is so overrated. Think about it. You’ve got four or five on the offensive staff sitting in these nice, big, comfortable chairs watching video all week, drinking coffee. If they can’t think of some great adjustment doing that, they sure aren’t going to think of one during the heat of battle,” he said. “That stuff is so overrated. No, they just did what they were supposed to do.”

Now let’s understand, K-State was up only 14-12 after that one drive, but they converted every third down they tried the rest of the game, going 8-for-8 in the second half.

It was insane, so much so that on seven of the third downs, Patterson used seven different coverages in an effort to stop Bill Snyder. He pulled out everything he had in the playbook, and none of it worked.

“It was unlike me,” he admitted.

He went man-free and they hit twice, each time facing a different blitz.

“One mistake was technique; one was assignment,” he said.

Now they had him thinking.

“What happens is a defensive caller goes, ‘Wow, I just went man-free twice and got beat,’ so you say, ‘I’m going to change the coverage,’ so I did, and they beat us right across the middle. So, you say, ‘I’m not going back to that,’ and you go a single-safety concept and they hit us with an out-go,” he recalled.

“Like I said, just trying to move the dots on the quarterback a little bit. But that’s what they do. That’s how their program is built. They keep doing what they do until you make a mistake. We eventually broke down.”

Maybe they ought to let WVU play with 12 defensive players.

“I’d go for that,” Patterson said, laughing at what may not be a laughing matter.

Why did WVU break down?

There were reasons, most of them injury-related.

“Since the Oklahoma game, it’s been a nightmare,” Patterson admitted.

Injuries devastated the nickel package used on third down, nickel back Ricky Rumph out with a foot injury, linebacker Marvin Gross out with a groin, cornerback Daryl Worley out with a shin injury, safety Wes Tonkery, also often part of the nickel package, out for the year now with upcoming shoulder surgery … and then pass rusher Dontrill Hyman suffering an ankle injury in the midst of the K-State game, which had wide-reaching implications as Kyle Rose had to be moved outside while Darrien Howard broke his redshirt in the 8th game to play inside.

All of it has led to defensive disasters that have WVU facing bowl extinction as it plays TCU this Saturday in Fort Worth.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads