MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia's defense, riddled and ridiculed throughout the 2012 season, held Oklahoma's offense to just 16 points in Saturday's loss to the Sooners.
It was OU's lowest point total in a win in 46 years and a performance that saw WVU at least continue the form it showed while shutting out William & Mary in the second half of the season-opener.
This is not to say WVU was good or good enough, though.
"The way I view that and the way I portray that to our defensive guys is, 'You guys did a great job, your effort was tremendous, you got four turnovers, but you were the second best defense on the field,'" Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
"I think that resonated with them. If you want to be a dominating defense - and we were not on Saturday - we would've had to hold them to six points. It's all about winning the game."
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DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Keith Patterson has a board that charts WVU's performance in every game in 10 critical categories. He wants his Mountaineers to allow no explosive plays, fewer than 200 yards passing, 100 yards rushing and 3.5 yards per play and no more than 13 points.
The defense also has to get a stop on at least 70 percent of the third downs, force at least three turnovers, set up or score a touchdown with a turnovers, force at least six three-and-outs and record at least nine tackles for a loss.
WVU succeeded in only four against the Sooners (passing yards, third down stops, turnovers, tackles for a loss). A fifth would have been met, but a pair of three-and-outs were erased by special teams mistakes that ultimately facilitated scoring drives and 10 points for OU. Safety Darwin Cook believes he missed out on a sixth. He was adamant after the game and again Tuesday he would have scored had he not dropped an interception in the second quarter.
Consequently, the Mountaineers missed on the 11th and ultimate goal - they didn't win.
"I'm happy with their progress; I've said that since camp," Holgorsen said. "I think they are further along with their progress than any time since I've been here. I think Keith is doing a great job, but he will be the first person to tell you that we are far from where we can be defensively."
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THROUGH TWO games, WVU has substituted more freely along the offensive line than in Holgorsen's first two seasons. As unusual as that may be, consider Holgorsen's review of the group.
"I'm happy with it," he said, realizing the words as they came from his mouth. "I shouldn't have said that, but I am happy with it."
First-year offensive line coach Ron Crook has used backup guard Pat Eger as much as he has any starter in two games, and Eger played both guard positions and center against the Sooners.
He'll start at center in Saturday's noon home game against Georgia State at Mountaineer Field (Root Sports), but he'll also slide over to relieve Marquise Lucas at left guard and Mark Glowinski at right guard. Tyler Orlosky will play center when Eger moves.