WVU's defense embraces change with new coordinator
By John Harris
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 7:20 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen attempted to put a positive spin on the shift in power at defensive coordinator, junior defensive end Will Clarke embraced the change.
Keith Patterson's promotion and Joe DeForest's demotion already has made an impact, said Clarke, a starter from Allderdice.
“We have been improving,” Clarke said.
Holgorsen said this week that Patterson is the new defensive coordinator with play-calling responsibilities, while DeForest will retain his position as co-defensive coordinator.
“Instead of having two guys sharing that responsibility, I think it is important for one guy to take the lead,” Holgorsen said.
The change took place prior to WVU's 39-38 overtime loss to TCU on Nov. 3. The coaches switched their locations for that game, with Patterson moving to the sideline and DeForest working from the press box for the first time in his career.
“Coach Patterson showed a lot of emphasis on small things like taking the field like we own it, being more united as a defense and playing with a purpose and a focus,'' Clarke said. “That's something we started with the TCU game and tried to carry it over to the end of the season. We're going to try to carry that over to the bowl game.”
WVU (7-5) faces former Big East foe Syracuse (7-5) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium.
In that game, the Mountaineers will feature a defense that ranks No. 107 out of 120 FBS teams but allowed an average of only 17 points over the final two games.
During their previous seven games, the Mountaineers yielded fewer than 40 points only once.
“Keith Patterson has been doing a fantastic job,” Holgorsen said. “He is a great defensive coordinator and has been for some time.
“Joe DeForest is very valuable to our coaching staff and to our football program. He brings a bunch of experience from a recruiting standpoint, from a special teams standpoint, from an associate head coach standpoint and from a next guy in charge standpoint and that will continue.”
Holgorsen said he felt good regarding the unit's direction.
“There is no sense in pushing the pause button when you know you are going to do something at the end of the season,” Holgorsen said. “We have made progress with what the future is going to be and what the vision of the defense is going to look like.”
Patterson, who was Pitt's defensive coordinator in 2011, said he will retain the 3-4 alignment favored by DeForest but will emphasize a variety of looks.
“There will be different concepts. I have been shaped and molded by different people,” Patterson said. “I've got to coach to my style. We can't make wholesale changes, but I think you'll see some differences.”
Patterson, who called his promotion an “extraordinary opportunity,” said some of those changes will be unveiled in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Clarke, for one, can't wait.
“Results always help the situation — either positive or negative results,” Clarke said. “It shows if what you did is working or if you need to go back to the drawing board even more.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.