MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A year ago, Oklahoma finished No. 55 in total defense and No. 31 in scoring defense.
The Sooners went 10-3 and the defensive numbers weren't embarrassing for a product of the Big 12 Conference.
Yet the Sooners lost three conference games and gave up 41, 44 and 45 points. Oklahoma had only given up 40 points or more four times after allowing 48 to West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
"Last year, we were much better than the way we played, but there were just a lot of mental errors," Sooners senior cornerback Demontre Hurst said. "It all comes down to getting together as a team and focusing on an attitude before the game, because we don't want to play like we did last year."
Attitude is an interesting word because even with the recruiting classes and the big bodies and athletic players across the field, opponents marvel at the assertiveness with which the Sooners play.
West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) will be the next to experience it when No. 13 Oklahoma (7-2, 5-1) visits Mountaineer Field at 7 p.m. Saturday (WVAH telecast).
"This is a team that just lines up and plays without many defensive gadgets or gimmicks or pressure every down or stunts," said Kansas Coach Charlie Weis, whose team took its worst loss of the season in Norman, Okla. "These guys just line up and try to rough you up and they can do that because they're well-coached.
"They have good players that are very physical, so that's the game they play. They don't try to beat you with trickery and deceit. They line up and smash you in the mouth. It's an old fashioned defense and they're really good at it."
The Sooners are now No. 20 in total defense and No. 24 in scoring defense. Their two losses came when allowing 24 and 30 points and they'll pose a challenge to WVU's passing offense. Oklahoma is No. 2 in pass efficiency defense and No. 8 in passing yards allowed per game.
"The one thing that never changes is the effort they play with and the nastiness they play with," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They play with a tremendous amount of energy."
It's the style Coach Bob Stoops learned as a defensive back at Iowa for Coach Haden Frye, who featured a list of impressive defensive assistant coaches. Stoops was with the Hawkeyes from 1979-82 and played under noted defensive coaches like Dan McCarney and Barry Alvarez.