MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Consider a moment that Keith Patterson was without a starting linebacker and a safety that is on the field as much as the starters for Saturday's game against Georgia State.
Then consider that West Virginia's defensive coordinator was also without one player he used a week before to help fill those gaps. And that Patterson started a true freshman cornerback at the safety spot. And that a converted cornerback-turned-safety played a lot of linebacker.
And that a defensive end was in his first game at Buck linebacker. And that another starting linebacker sat out with a concussion. And that the backup nose guard left the game in the second quarter and never returned.
Patterson can be forgiven for taking long, concerned looks out onto the field in what was still a decisive 41-7 win.
"The last two weeks have been a challenge," he said. "I've had to look out there to see who's on the field before I can call a defense."
The Mountaineers will see their best challenge Saturday in the 3:30 p.m. ESPNU game against Maryland (3-0) at M&T Bank stadium. It would help if they were healthier then than they were Saturday.
WVU nevertheless allowed only 220 yards of offense - just 99 in the second half - and just 84 yards passing. That was the lowest total against the Mountaineers since Syracuse had just 63 yards in a 2010 loss.
"There were so many moving parts that it made it kind of difficult for me calling it," Patterson said. "I wanted to be aggressive, but I didn't know if we could execute it. I was probably a little too conservative in the first half. I probably should have forced the issue more."
Spur linebacker Isaiah Bruce missed the game with a leg injury. Senior Tyler Anderson, who had moved to inside linebacker during camp, moved outside and started in Bruce's place.
Safety K.J. Dillon also sat out with a leg injury. He was replaced by freshman cornerback Daryl Worley, a move necessitated when linebacker Wes Tonkery was ruled out with an injury.
"He's got a chance to be one heck of a football player because he's just so versatile," Patterson said of Worley.
To cover up some depth issues, sophomore Ricky Rumph, who was a cornerback last season and is a safety this season, played linebacker in some uniquely compromised pass defenses that looked like dime packages with six defensive backs on the field.
"It was still nickel, but I was taking a linebacker off the field," Patterson said. "We had to get creative with it. We used him at the linebacker position because of the defensive call and we played a lot of man (coverage) under, two deep (safeties). Ricky played a role in that. He's got corner coverage skills."