Patterson Ignores Past, Pushes Toward Future for WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Patterson Ignores Past, Pushes Toward Future for WVU


Keith Patterson has a plan for West Virginia's defense. It starts with completely forgetting about what it did a season ago.

Sure, the Mountaineers' new defensive coordinator could use his unit's dismal performance last year as a cautionary tale or as an example largely of what not to do, but instead, he chooses to ignore it.

"I haven't thought about it since the last second ticked off the clock," Patterson says, referring back to one of many poor showings in a Pinstripe Bowl loss to Syracuse.

The players on WVU's defense don't have to be reminded of their prior failures. They witnessed it firsthand and understand that not only were they the brunt of jokes within their own fan base and across the country, but they were also about the polar opposite of what was considered to be one of the nation's top offenses. You know, that same offense they lined up against every day in practice.

If a person were to look up the West Virginia defense under just about every national statistical category, the easiest way to find the Mountaineers would be to start at No. 120 and work backward. It won't take long to locate them.

Giving up an average of 38.1 points and 472 yards per game, Patterson was co-coordinator of a group that looked more like a sieve on the field than a Division-I defense.

Now, with the title of D.C. all his own, Patterson is hoping to start fresh by taking advantage of what may be a discouraged bunch.

"I'm kind of backwards in my approach to coaching," he says. "When things are going well, that's probably when I'm the hardest on our players. When things are not going so well, that's when you're trying to build confidence, so you're more positive when things aren't going well."

Picture Patterson, then, the world's most positive football coach.

The thing is, he knows in his mind that he is starting fresh. The philosophy will change from last year, the scheme has been tweaked and the players who folded many times over the course of 13 games all have that year of experiences to draw off of and to build on and to grow from.

Patterson says right now, they are laying all of the groundwork for the coming season. The Mountaineers have established their foundation and identified their goals, including who they want to be when they step out onto the field.

"What are we? We're a multiple attacking, 3-4 defense," Patterson says. "We want to try to create confusion in the mind of the quarterback, not just by trying to impact the quarterback physically, but also before the ball's ever snapped. Put doubt in his mind."

Really, when Patterson is asked about his approach to the repair job he has ahead of him, he dives into a three-minute response full of ideas and expectations and means with which he plans to see them all through to fruition this fall. You get the sense that he hasn't thought about much else other than the answer to that question.

"We've spent an inordinate amount of time describing and ingraining into the minds of these young men: here's what it takes to be successful on defense," says Patterson.

"We've been very, very meticulous in spelling out position by position," he continues. "The difference between offense and defense, where offensively, you call a play, you execute. Defensively, you call a defense, you have no idea what play you're getting. So therefore, you've got to get 11 guys to try to react to what they're seeing and function as a unit, everyone carrying out their assignment. That's easier said than done. That's why we spent so much time focusing on attention to detail."

He emphasizes that each player on the field has a clean slate because, in the end, it doesn't matter who did what in this most recent season that he has chosen to forget. Freshmen Karl Joseph and Isaiah Bruce, who were major bright spots and led the team in tackling, need to fall back in line and show all over again why they are deserving of their playing time as sophomores.

But in addition to it being a new start for the players, it is for Patterson, too, who admits that there is a new comfort level within him personally as WVU moves to his brand of defensive football.

"It's just more of what I believe in. It'd be like me asking you to come teach something that you don't know anything about," Patterson explains with regards to his former co-defensive coordinator position. "Even if I ran the defense that we ran a year ago, it would be different just because of how I teach and the way I go about things."

The way he teaches it and runs his meeting room and the drills on the field will reflect in the product that shows up come Aug. 31. 

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