MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Keith Patterson is either supremely confident or strikingly accurate, but West Virginia's defensive coordinator saw a lot of what happened in Saturday's loss to Oklahoma coming.
The Mountaineers gave up yards, especially against the run, but they made plays to end drives and allowed 10 points following two special teams mistakes that extended OU drives.
Patterson's players had done enough for WVU to win the game, which at WVU stands as a considerable contrast to everything that went wrong in 2012.
"I knew," Patterson said. "All you've got to do is watch the video. Three pass plays in the William & Mary game and if you take away the three big plays where we bite on a double cut, we give up 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing.
"Our kids knew. I knew. We're a good defense. I knew we were going to be. I think we had a good plan. The kids got comfortable once they got into the flow of the game. We knew we were going to make it hard on them if we could stop the run and I felt like we did that early. And I thought if we could force some turnovers, there was no way we'd lose the game."
Possessions figured to be at a premium in a game with two offenses that would run the ball and search for big plays that might not come very often. The way Patterson pictured it, his defense could end OU possessions and give the offense extra chances.
"I told them Sunday if we forced four turnovers, we'd win the game," he said.
Sure enough, the Mountaineers forced four turnovers. They lost because the offense punted after two turnovers and turned it over after the other two. WVU had won 11 consecutive games when forcing four or more turnovers - but also averaged 39 points in those wins.
The last loss with four or more forced turnovers was at USF in 2007, when the Mountaineers committed six turnovers.
"Our kids, they knew it was going to be a hard-fought, physical game, but they had a great spirit the whole time, all the way to the very end, even when (the Sooners) were just kind of milking the clock," Patterson said. "We wanted to keep playing hard. They knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle, but I was very proud of them. The kids fought, even when they started to wear on us a little bit."
On a hot night when it was 96 degrees at kickoff and the defense lost key players to injuries, WVU hung around despite facing 57 runs on 78 snaps and enduring 34:26 on the field. The Mountaineers allowed 316 yards rushing, but 200 came from the middle of the third quarter and on. The Sooners rushed the ball on 27 of their 33 snaps after halftime and 20 of their final 22 plays.
The turnovers, though, were the results of both individual and effort and collective persistence.
Linebacker Isaiah Bruce raced down the field to catch a receiver at the end of a 32-yard gain to force a fumble. Safety Darwin Cook, who missed the tackle to spring that play, hustled to recover the fumble.