Where Does the Mountaineers Defense Go From Here?

MORGANTOWN – Two weeks ago, after Baylor hung 72 points and conference-record 864 yards on West Virginia, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said his unit took two steps back.

The Mountaineers, with a bye week, had two weeks to regain those steps, but Saturday against No. 16-ranked Texas Tech, the defense hasn’t seemed to regain its footing.

When West Virginia needed help the most, its defense buckled under pressure.

”Fourth quarter, we let (Texas Tech) get into a rhythm,” Patterson said. ”(We) went up 27-13, got them in third downs, but we couldn’t get them off the field. That’s the key to the game. We only forced one turnover where we had opportunities to have more. We let it get away. There’s a very, very fine line between winning and losing.”

There’s an even thinner one when it comes to confidence.

One bad game can take it all away and make you question your abilities.

That’s the funk the Mountaineers defense appears to be in.

”I didn’t see us playing with that swagger or confidence (we used to have),” Patterson said. ”Early in the season, we were finishing plays. We didn’t take one step back against Baylor. We took two steps back. (Baylor) stole some of our confidence and you could sense that.”

So, how do the Mountaineers get that confidence back?

”The only way I know how to do that is get back to work, prepare a little bit harder. Maybe with a little more focus,” Patterson said. ”Just like I tell them on the sidelines, you play the next play, you practice the next practice with a sense of urgency. You continue to have an expectancy to win.”

No longer an issue

One aspect of West Virginia’s game that did see improvements was the communication between quarterback Clint Trickett and coach Dana Holgorsen.

”The communication was great,” Holgorsen said. ”There wasn’t a delay. (Trickett’s) done a good job with that. He was operating (the offense) good. Better than what he’s been doing.”

Trickett, too, was happy with the improvements.

”We made adjustments at the end of the Baylor game and at the beginning of the bye week,” the redshirt junior said. ”It definitely helped. We communicated pretty well. We’ve got that part down. We just need to win now.”

Why not kick the field goal?

Holgorsen made an interesting call late in the first quarter when he decided to go for the first down instead of kicking a field goal on a fourth-and-14 from Texas Tech’s 26.

The Mountaineers had been moving the ball down field rather well, but penalties had turned a second-and-5 from the TTU 17 into a third-and-30 from the 42.

On that play, running back Charles Sims found an open lane and picked up 16-yards to put West Virginia in field goal range, trailing 10-0.

However, instead of kicking the long field goal, Holgorsen called for a pass play that ended up incomplete.

”I regret that,” Holgorsen said. ”I should have kicked it. At that point, I just felt good about moving the ball. I just saw (Texas Tech) take it down the length of the field, so I figured touchdowns were going to be important. We should have kicked the field goal. It was not the correct decision.”

NOTES: Clint Trickett’s 27 pass completions were his season high … Dakiel Shorts finished with a career-best nine receptions which made him the first Mountaineer to catch at least nine passes since Dec. 1, 2012 … punter Nick O’Toole now has 16 punts of 50 or more yards this season … Texas Tech coach Kliff Kinsbury became the first Big 12 coach to start a coaching career with a 7-0 record.