MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - By now what we know of the Big 12 is that it's going to offer West Virginia a variety of reminders that it is no longer in the Big East.
There's the trouble in getting to Lubbock, Texas, and Texas Tech, a location so remote that it's actually five hours west of Dallas. Know what's five hours east of Dallas? Vicksburg, Miss. All of Louisiana is between it and Dallas.
If the University of Texas wasn't enough, there's the heat on an autumn afternoon in Austin, and then a while later the chance of snow in Ames, Iowa, for the tricky trip to Iowa State. There's fervent fan support of even middling teams like Kansas State and the threat of an inspired fan base like the one at TCU, which has never sold tickets like it has this summer.
Everyone warns about the style of play and how you'll find more touchdowns in the Big 12 than at Hartsfield-Jackson. Nobody plays faster than Oklahoma. No offense is as craftily designed as Oklahoma State's. No one makes use of the length and the width of the field quite like Baylor. No one knows what to expect from Kansas, except that it will feature the best of Charlie Weis' experiences with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs as well as Notre Dame and Florida.
It's been hard to see exactly what this will look like, to put a picture to the words and explain just how different life will be and how much offenses will challenge the defense when the Mountaineers begin the experience Sept. 29 at home against Baylor.
Until now. Joe DeForest was hired as WVU's defensive coordinator after 11 years at Oklahoma State and has the best background to illustrate what awaits. He also has the best visual to describe the way his players will be tested.
"Teams are going to run vertical routes three times in a row and just run their offense and put another receiver in there that's fresh," DeForest said. "They're going to try to gas your guys as much as possible and then put their best receiver on your tired guy and throw at him again."
To review, an offense, and to hear DeForest tell it, any offense, will put a few receivers on the field and have them run deep routes a few times in a row. The ball may never go deep, but the cornerback has to cover, which creates a separate set of problems underneath that coverage.
Still, when everyone is jogging back to the line of scrimmage for the third or fourth snap in the sequence, the receivers will run off the field and new ones, sometimes better ones, will jog onto the field. They'll then run a deep route and, ideally, get past a wheezing cornerback.
It sounds diabolical. It is all that and more.
"It's definitely on purpose," DeForest said, "and it's smart."
How does one defend against that? You could ask DeForest, but why not seek help from one of the people responsible for popularizing this tactic in the Big 12?
"You don't," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "You just have to deal with it."