"The Iowa State game was very cold," Joseph said. "The cold weather definitely got to me."
That was the 11th game of the season and Joseph was used to marathons. He had career-high 13 tackles and recovered a fumble against the Cyclones. That fumble was significant. Cook rushed forward from the secondary and hit running back Jeff Woody near the goal line. Joseph pounced and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback. The offense ran out the clock to win the game, snap a five-game losing streak and reach bowl eligibility.
Joseph learned there was no place, let alone any use, for getting rest during play. Even if a run or a quick pass to the left was quickly stopped, that couldn't stop Joseph from running from deep on the right side of the field toward the action.
"If you try to get a rest when you're on the field, it's going to look terrible," Cook said. "Even if you jog to the ball, you're going to get tired because of the equipment and the heat and all of that. You might as well run. You might make something happen, too."
Joseph was good at that, oftentimes knocking opponents over as he rushed to join a scrum and once against Texas arriving in time to strike hard and force a fumble.
"I try not to take plays off," Joseph said. "You don't know what's going to happen over there or if a guy is going to break a tackle. You could end up making a tackle."
Lessons like that learned last season should be applied to next season. The Mountaineers figure to have more depth on defense, but they also stand to benefit from their experiences. Four players saw more than 700 snaps and Cook, Joseph and Isaiah Bruce return for 2013, as well as four others who played at least 500 snaps.
Much of the offseason work in the winter and now in the summer is spent on conditioning. The style and the speed of the Big 12 offenses aren't going to change, so it's up to WVU to keep pace.
"We know more about the things we need to do, but last year we just went through it like we went through it before," Cook said. "Now we see more plays and there's more wear and tear on the body. During the week you've got to do a better job getting in the treatment room, getting more ice, getting rest, all those things."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.