The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 12, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Patterson is in the hot seat

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen had just finished his address to the media during the school’s annual pre-spring practice luncheon and was turning the focus over to his assistant coaches, who were finding seats at tables around the room.

Gary Patterson grabbed his and as he sat down you expected him to jump back up in pain, for if anyone has followed WVU football he would know that Patterson is on the hot seat.


This is the year Patterson assumes the title of defensive coordinator of the Mountaineers, which fielded among the five worst defenses in college football last year and by far the worst ever in WVU’s long football history.

A year ago Patterson carried the title of co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, while Joe DeForest was in title the defensive coordinator.

Now, anyone knows that if you have co-coordinators you have no coordinator, and that was pretty much how it appeared. The “co-” title for Patterson was probably put there in order to be able to give him a few more bucks in his paycheck.

Ask him about being a co-coordinator last year and exactly what that meant, he simply answers:

“I just tried to make the linebackers the best I could and help the best I could from a coaching and schematic standpoint.”

This year?

“I know where I am right now and I’m heading forward.”

In truth, that is the only way this defense can go ... and it damn well better because you cannot expect an offense that lost quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to match last season’s record-shattering production.

When last seen, the defense was being shredded on the ground by a rather ordinary Syracuse team in the Pinstripe Bowl, one final indignation and one that came in Patterson’s first game as defensive coordinator, although it was hardly what you would call anything but a walk-through.

Certainly, it meant nothing to Patterson.

“I have not thought about it since the last second clicked off the clock,” Patterson said.

He didn’t even go back and analyze film of it.


Because it was last year and that doesn’t count any longer.

“It doesn’t matter what Isaiah Bruce did a year ago. It doesn’t really matter what Karl Joseph did a year ago. That’s not going to do a single thing to help us win our first game this next season,” he said.

Patterson sees this as starting over completely.

“Basically it’s like building a home. First you have to build a foundation. You have to identify who you are, identify your philosophies and expectations,” he said.

And he knows what that is and has spent the offseason getting it across to his defense.

“Be on time. Don’t be late for class. We worked on discipline,” he said. “We talk to our players all the time about how the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

“We want to be the least penalized defense in the country. We went down to the very first element of football, looking at ourselves.”

And once you know who you are?

“Then you get into defining what you are. What are we? We are an attacking 3-4 defense with simplistic teaching. We are going to be multiple but simple,” Patterson continued. “We want to create confusion in the mind of the quarterback, not just by impacting the quarterback physically but before the ball is even snapped. We want to put in his mind thoughts like, ‘What am I seeing? Am I really seeing what I think I’m seeing?’”

Patterson sees the defense as an extension of Holgorsen’s offense.

“Our defense has to complement our offense. We’re an uptempo offense. To complement that offense, our objective is to get the ball back to the offense as fast as possible with good field position. That allows them to get into a rhythm running offensive plays.”

The approach?

“We define who we are, then we define how we will stop the run, how we will control the pass. Then we lay out the keys to what a championship defense is built around,” he explained. “We spent an inordinate amount of time explaining and ingraining the minds of these young men what it takes to be successful on defense.

“We focused on ourselves, on philosophy and expectations, who we are and where we’re headed and what our goals are for the spring. We will harp on that over the next five weeks, and then see where we are at the end of spring ball.”

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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

House Ads
Featured Ads