"Jared and Doug have done a tremendous job getting themselves in better condition - they had a great spring and summer," Patterson said. "And Kwiatkoski has just changed the way he looks. He's 235 pounds now. He looks like a linebacker now. With those guys there, moving Isaiah outside really stabilized that whole position."
Bruce isn't a new player, but he's at a new position. He's quick and can navigate blocking in space, which Patterson believes will unlock new productivity at Spur. He's one of three additions that give Patterson's plan potential.
The other two are new parts plucked from junior college and primed for big roles this season. Opposite Bruce as the Buck linebacker is Brandon Golson. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Golson played only four games last season at Georgia Military Academy and made only 30 tackles in two seasons there, but was one of WVU's top recruiting coups.
"What is there not to like?" Patterson said. "He's aggressive. He plays hard. He's physical. He's got all the tools you look for at that outside linebacker position.
"You can drop him into coverage, you can bring him off the edge and he's physical enough to stop the run. He absolutely has all the intangibles you look for in an outside linebacker."
While Golson is slated to start, defensive end Dontrill Hyman, an All-American in 2011 at Hinds (Miss.) Community College, is a backup for now who nevertheless fits what Patterson needed. A year ago, WVU played one defensive end, one nose guard and one defensive tackle because they didn't have enough true defensive ends to play ends next to the nose guard.
The 6-4, 265-pound Hyman changes that.
"At Golson's position, I wouldn't say it's necessarily easier, but maybe you can get on the field quicker at that outside linebacker position than down in the trenches," Patterson said. "We have a definitive plan for how we teach fundamentals and footwork there that's probably different than the previous school, but he's going to play.
"And the more he plays, the better he's going to get and the more you're going to see of him. This is a 6-4 defensive end who is long and rangy and really athletic outside."
What Patterson sees now is a defense that has options for the fourth rusher to accompany the defensive line. He said it could be any of the remaining eight players on defense and that there could be one or two additional players to join the rush.
"I think we're close," Patterson said. "I really, really like how our kids are enjoying playing in the scheme. They've bought in and they believe in what we're doing. Now it's a matter of going out and executing under the gun."
* * *RUNNING BACK Andrew Buie has left school for the semester, but is expected to return in the spring, Coach Dana Holgorsen said during his call-in show.
The junior led the Mountaineers with 851 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground last season, but was not on the William and Mary game depth chart revealed this week. Holgorsen said Buie would redshirt to "develop mentally and physically and we're just going to leave it at that."
University of Houston transfer Charles Sims is slated to start at running back Saturday.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.