The Mountaineers aren't hung upon their most recent past, but they're well aware of just how badly they played on defense last season. They're honest about what went wrong and many players have accepted blame.
They've had plenty of help remembering the depths of 2012, though, when WVU finished with a 7-6 record and ranked No. 108 in total defense, No. 114 in scoring defense and No. 118 in pass defense.
"We have this chart we look at and it's a mountain that shows all the Big 12 teams defensively last year and shows us around the bottom at No. 8," Hope said. "Coach Patterson said something, something pretty funny, about Kansas being right behind us. That pretty much embarrassed us."
The whole thing bothers Hope, who just isn't used to losing. He helped The Woodlands High School to 12-2 and 10-1 records his final two seasons.
"We were pretty close to a losing record last year and I don't think I ever had that many losses in my entire life," Hope said. "Down in Texas, if we would have been that close to a losing record, I feel like people would have just given up."
Hope doesn't believe that's happened at WVU. He thinks the struggles last season and the repeated reminders have actually made the returning players closer and possibly even better.
"It definitely made me mad," he said.
In his past, Hope has made the most of being mad. In 2011, The Woodlands was undefeated with five games left in the regular season before losing to Lufkin by 30 points. The Highlanders won their next four games by a combined score of 175-0.
They made the Class 5A state quarterfinals and Hope was his district's defensive player of the year and honorable mention all-state. Patterson hopes to capture and sharpen that edge in the middle this spring.
"I think he thinks that I'm a physical guy and he wants a physical presence inside," Hope said. "Linebackers on the outside are dodging and ducking people and stuff like that. Guys on the inside fit people up and have to be the most hard-nosed guys. I feel like I'm one of those guys."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.