It wasn't always so smooth. Sophomore Eric Kinsey, who was a defensive end up until last week, when he was moved to the Buck linebacker position, not only played at his new spot, but played a lot with the team's other Buck, junior college transfer Brandon Golson.
Tonkery is Bruce's normal backup. The Mountaineers previously lost backup Buck Dozie Ezemma to a season-ending surgery. Patterson didn't have many other options, but he also wanted to get Kinsey acclimated to his new position.
"If both those guys can play 45 plays a game, it will make both of them a lot better," he said.
On one play, though, both Kinsey and Golson reacted to a Georgia State formation and lined up like the Buck is supposed to. The problem was that one side needed to back out and not behave like the Buck once a tight end motioned over to his side of the field. Georgia State snapped off a 65-yard touchdown run.
Patterson knew it was trouble before it happened.
"They're both used to playing Buck and we were completely outgapped," he said. "They bring the tight end across and it was not going to be good."
Kinsey played on the defensive line quite a bit, including at nose guard on passing downs and even as a defensive tackle. The Mountaineers would play four players on the defensive line with the ends standing up in pass rush positions. Kinsey, though, was in the middle.
Kinsey's move has given more playing time to ends Dontrill Hyman and Kyle Rose and Patterson said redshirt freshman Noble Nwachukwu is about to get more playing time.
Rose was solid for a second straight game and had six tackles, one sack and 11/2 tackles for a loss. Hyman had just one tackle, but he was active in his most extensive playing time and pressured the quarterback often.
One play, though, led to another of those bad moments for the defense. He chased Panthers quarterback Ronnie Bell to the sideline. Bell threw the ball, but Hyman caught Bell and drove him to the ground.
It somehow ended up as a 31-yard completion over flailing, flat-footed defenders. Patterson wasn't proud of it, but he was nevertheless pleased it was one of only a few errors on a day that could have produced so many.
"Other than long run, I can live with the rest," he said. "We should have had the sack there, but what happens is guys get caught watching the play. I know exactly what happened. We think we have him sacked and he's running for his life and all of a sudden Dontrill just airmails the guy. I mean, good grief, that was a hit.
"But I'm telling you, they were probably sitting there, watching that going 'Whoa,' and they let their guard down."