The defense is less attuned to the plan. It can make educated guesses based off film and tendencies for certain downs and distances, game situations and positions on the field. Some defensive linemen and linebackers can accurately guess run or pass based on the pressure an offensive lineman has on his fingers. If there's a lot, the lineman is coming forward for a run play. If there isn't much, he's dropping back to pull for a run play or pass block. When one guard is clearly closer to the center than the other guard, it signifies a run play heading the direction of the closer guard's inside shoulder.
"That helps," linebacker Jared Barber said, "but nobody's right 100 percent of the time."
It behooves defenders to see something and then attack it, as opposed to finding something on the run.
"It used to be pretty hard for me to try to react slower because once I see something, I'm gone," Bruce said. "But sometimes that makes me take a false step and something like that, even for a split second, puts me out of position. We're definitely getting better at it. We have some people, like Doug Rigg, who when the ball is snapped, he isn't going to move until he sees what he needs."
Patterson's preferred patience is just a matter of practicality. WVU's linebackers work off the defensive linemen and can read whether offensive linemen are pulling for power plays or stretching and climbing for zone plays. On a zone play, when the linemen fan out and block within an area to create a running lane, the middle linebackers will follow the nose guard in the middle of the defensive line.
"He's going to fight across the center's face, but the ball will never cross the center - it'll always be cut back," Barber said. "What most offenses want the linebackers to do is see the zone, shuffle and get over the top of the play, but that's when they cut the ball back. We want to shuffle, shuffle and watch the ball. The nose is going to fight across so (the running back) has to cut back, but into where we are."
The trouble for the defenders is there are a variety of zone plays teams run throughout the Big 12. There are opponents who have plays when a running back runs right and is supposed to cut all the way back underneath the left tackle. A split zone features a fullback who starts on one side as the play heads his way. That fullback then reverses and blocks the linebacker or the defensive end on the back side, which creates room for the running back.
"What they want you to do is overpusue and get out of position for a big play," Barber said. "They want you to overthink, but it's really simple not to if you get in the film room and study. If not, they can truck you."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.