The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

August 18, 2013

Patterson will use a variety of defensive players

MORGANTOWN — In a perfect world, which probably is pretty close to what the football world was back in the days of Vince Lombardi and Johnny Unitas, a football coach would go out and try to find 11 guys on each side of the ball, line ’em up and turn ’em loose.

It was pretty much a mano-a-mano game, without a whole lot of substitution. In fact, believe this if you will, but there actually was an era of one-platoon football in college, where players played both offense and defense.

It was written into the rules.

In 1954 the NCAA, ever cost-conscious, put in a rule that allowed only one player to be substituted between plays, including change-of-possession plays, putting an end to specialized units.

It may sound absurd today, but back then Tennessee’s Hall of Fame coach “General” Robert Neyland praised the end to what he called “chickenpoop” football.

Of course, Neyland often punted on third-and-long, too.

You’d think the one-platoon rule would last only a year or two, but it wasn’t until 1965 that the NCAA went back unlimited substitution.

Imagine, if you will, players in this era of up-tempo, pass-crazy, spread out trying to go both ways on an August or early September afternoon in Columbia, Mo., or Tucson, Ariz.

But there still lingers a certain sentiment for a defensive coach being able to come up with 11 players good enough to line them up and say, “Here we are. Come and try to beat us.”

At least you would think that a coach would like that, but West Virginia’s new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson rejects such a thought out of hand.

“I like it the other way,” Patterson said. “The more kids out of the 45 kids I have on defense I get involved, the stronger we are,” he said.

In some ways this sounds quite contradictory to what we have been hearing for much of the summer out of the WVU camp.

Dana Holgorsen wants to settle on one quarterback. Shannon Dawson is looking for his four best receivers to play. A year ago, the offensive line made very few substitutions.

But that is offense and, as fast as they go, they are best moving players in and out.

What’s more, the reason they tempo is to keep the defense from making its substitutions, to wear them down and to keep them from going to third-and-12 packages or third-and-1 packages.

Football today is unlike it has ever been before. It is almost fast-break basketball on every play.

Defensive schemes match up not only with those third-and-12 or third-and-1 situations, but with the personnel that the offense presents.

“What I said yesterday was this game has become a game of matchups, and it’s just becoming moreso,” Patterson said. “Fifteen years ago the game was played in a phone booth. Now it’s played the full 53 and a half yards across the field.

“You have to defend from sideline to sideline and goal line to goal line, and you just can’t do that saying put this group of people on the field and let them go. You will get mismatches.”

No matter how good those 11 players are, there are times you are going to wind up with a 4.2 receiver trying to be covered by a 4.7 linebacker, and the only substitution you better get ready for is the one that defends the point after touchdown.

That is why Patterson is going to be mixing and matching all season.

“My whole thing is don’t allow the offense to create mismatches. Match personnel with substitutional patterns,” he said.

Obviously, with the uptempo offenses, you can’t matchup situationally, but there are times during a game that allow substitutions.

“In today’s game, during the course of play you get natural substitution patterns which allows guys to rest. So, without thinking I have to get this guy some rest, he’s played too much, it just naturally happens during the course of the game,” Patterson said.

Think about it. There are flags, injuries, timeouts, TV timeouts … more than an offense really likes for during those moments a defense can get some rest, bring in fresh bodies and adjust matchups with personnel and situations.

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

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz

    The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU men’s basketball non-conference schedule announced

    West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has announced the 2014-15 men’s basketball non-conference schedule.

    July 31, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • 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

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos