WVU’s new and future defensive coordinator didn’t have a very good debut, or a very different result, in Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl. The run defense was depressingly bad and the defensive errors were difficult to excuse, both in penalties and in mental mistakes committed by a variety of players.
Patterson tried to take a lot of the blame by saying he didn’t do a good enough job telling his players Syracuse’s running backs were really good and that it was really important to stop them, that he didn’t do enough to teach his players his things in the roughly two-and-a-half weeks before the game.
He said this, which you need to re-read a few times, I think, to understand the point here.
WVU committed a pair of pass interference penalties on third downs to give the Orange a first down.
One was against senior linebacker Terence Garvin, who was too tight with his coverage.
He was supposed to be blitzing on the play.
“That’s my responsibility to make sure we understand what our assignments are and what our responsibilities are,” Patterson said.
Let’s agree on this: WVU’s defense was slow, young, not especially talented.
How many times were tackles or sacks missed? How many times did players drop interceptions? How can all the cornerbacks WVU played combined for one interception? How can WVU force 20 fumbles and recover 10?
And, obviously, the Mountaineers were prone to make physical and mental errors, sometimes in large numbers and sometimes at critical moments. That was Saturday. That was the 12 Saturdays before it.
But as it relates to Patterson and how his opening statement speaks for his future, how much is a coach supposed to do to tell players that two guys averaging five yards per carry on a team that gets 170 yards rushing per game are really good?
How much can a coach do when one of the veteran players dismisses an assignment and makes a huge error? Or when defensive backs just refuse to turn around and find the ball when it’s obvious it’s in the air? Or when players won’t pursue hard to make a tackle at the second level?
How much impact is a coach supposed to have in 15 practices with a team that didn’t show much in 15 weeks?
Patterson had to deal with a lot of the problems Joe DeForest dealt with before him and Patterson said most of what WVU did with schemes and alignments in the bowl was closely attached to what the Mountaineers did in the regular season.
He wants to be more aggressive and attacking and multiple and misleading, all keys, he says, against the Big 12 quarterbacks and offenses. But he has to have the parts to do it and the evaluation and the search is going to be a big part of the next three or four weeks.
“You can’t just sit there and say, ‘Let’s squeeze a square peg into a round hole,’” he said. “You have to make sure you have the right guys. You can change that with recruiting. We have to recruit to this system. That’s definitely part of it.
“It’s part of being underneath the umbrella when you’re revamping. ‘Here’s what we’re looking at at linebacker. Here’s what we’re looking at in the back end. Here’s what we’re looking at on the line.’ Quite honestly, we’ve done a good job of that the last two recruiting classes.”