The unknowns work both ways.
"They went to Oregon, so you don't know if they're going to do Oregon stuff," DeForest said. "You don't know if they're going to do Marshall stuff from last year, so we're trying to prepare for both and get ready for up-tempo."
DeForest spent 2001-2011 as an assistant defensive coach at Oklahoma State. He's scrapped the 3-3-5 in favor of the 3-4, and linebacker positions have monosyllabic names that might confuse the common fan: Buck, Star, Will and Sam.
The 60,000-plus in attendance for Saturday's game will see what those positions entail and how the defense was modified from last season.
Marshall is eager to find out, too.
"We don't really know what to expect from them," Cato said of the WVU defense. "We had to study more about their personnel and how they fit in and what they might do."
Holgorsen expects Cato to be improved. He saw it toward the end of last season when the then-true freshman regained the starting role and led Marshall to three consecutive wins to end the season. This is Coach Doc Holliday's third year with the program and the coordinators on both sides of the ball have been the same each of those years, so there's the benefit of continuity.
"We expect them to be a better football team than they were last year," Holgorsen said. "Not just from when they played us, but also toward the end of the year when you watched the product that they put out there.
"Everybody wants to talk about Cato their quarterback and (Aaron) Dobson their receiver ... but from top to bottom, going into Year 3, with a bunch of guys who have been playing together for a couple years, you should see a better product out there."
How that'll impact the 12th meeting between the Mountain State schools remains to be seen. That's the intrigue of a season opener.
"Nobody knows," Holgorsen said. "Nobody knows going into that first game. You can assume ... you can assume all you want."
Contact Sports Editor Chuck McGill at chuck.mcg...@dailymail.com or 304-348-7949.