The Times West Virginian

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: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads