MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Keith Patterson is drawing heavily on the past three years during his first spring football drills as the team's defensive coordinator.
The varying and aggressive 3-4 defense started to come together in the 2010 Hawaii Bowl when he helped Tulsa thump Hawaii, 62-35.
He ran the 2011 defense at Pittsburgh well enough to be hired by (and work briefly for) Arkansas State before joining the Mountaineers last year as the co-coordinator.
"When we beat the britches off Hawaii, we were doing some things then that I do now," Patterson said. "Then we went to Pitt and it evolved into some other things because of the personnel and the conference. Basically, what we've done is couple all this stuff together and built on a lot of those things.
"As I go back in my mind and find different things we've done over the last few years, that's what I want our defense to look like."
The Golden Hurricane didn't have a great defense in 2010, but ranked No. 2 in turnover margin after forcing 36 turnovers, the third-highest total in the country. Tulsa was No. 3 in total offense and No. 6 in scoring offense and that relationship is a pillar of WVU's plan.
Tulsa was 17-0 when it forced at least three turnovers while Patterson led the defense from 2006-10.
WVU forced three or more turnovers just twice last season and only six times in Coach Dana Holgorsen's first two seasons, but is 5-1 in those games. The loss came last season in double overtime against TCU.
"If we force three or more turnovers, we give ourselves a chance to win 12 games," Patterson said. "I truly believe that."
Pitt ranked in the top 40 in 2011 in total defense (No. 35), scoring defense (No. 38) and run defense (No. 21) and was No. 3 in sacks per game.
The Mountaineers had just 23 sacks in 13 games last season and averaged about half of what Patterson's Pitt defense averaged per game a year earlier.
"We're going to do some things to get to the quarterback," said Patterson, who runs the defense on his own now that last year's defensive coordinator, Joe DeForest, who is coaching special teams. "It may not result in a sack. It may not result in a (tackle for a loss), but it may result in him making a poor decision."
It begins with the front seven and how Patterson uses his defensive line.
The Mountaineers will now play two defensive ends around a nose guard. A year ago, WVU played with a defensive tackle, a nose guard and a defensive end.
The ways Patterson uses them will also change.
Patterson attempts to disturb offenses by giving them something they're not used to seeing in practice or in games.
"I think, honestly, our scheme is going to help us up front," Patterson said.
"It's very unorthodox up front, I will tell you that, compared to most because of the technique we play and how we teach it."