MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When Will Muschamp gave up his job as the Texas defensive coordinator after the 2010 season, the Longhorns went looking for a third defensive coordinator in six years.
They returned with Manny Diaz, a revered young assistant who had worked previously at North Carolina State, Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State. He was the man Coach Mack Brown expected to lead Texas back to a position of prominence after a 5-7 record.
Diaz did his job in 2011 with all the bravado of his father, the former Miami mayor with the same name, as the Longhorns allowed just a few more yards and one fewer point per game in Diaz's first season - and for perspective, look at what's happening with No. 8 West Virginia's transition during its first season with defensive coordinator Joe DeForest.
"When a coach loves the game and inspires you like he does, it's easy to follow that," Texas cornerback Carrington Byndom said. "It's easy to listen to a guy who you know loves the game and has a passion for it and wants you to feel the same."
Brown wanted to feel similarly reassured Monday as the 11th-ranked Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) began preparations for the eighth-ranked Mountaineers (4-0, 1-0) and Saturday's 7 p.m. contest (FOX telecast) at Texas Memorial Stadium.
"I've been down there three times - he's got the door closed and he's under the desk," Brown said. "I always go down and try to talk to them before our press conference and say, 'Hey, let's get on the same page now.' I think they're just trying to figure out how to slow them down. You're not going to stop them. You've got to figure out how to slow them down."
The Mountaineers, who are No. 3 nationally in total offense, are on a roll and would have scored 70 points in three of the past five games if not for a missed extra point against Marshall.
The Texas defense, meanwhile, hasn't quite extended the momentum it assembled at the end of last season. After allowing 338.2 yards and 25.3 points per game in the first six with Diaz, the Longhorns settled in and allowed 278.6 yards and 19.6 points per game in the final seven. That included a 48-24 loss to Baylor in which the Bears had 511 yards of offense.
Texas graduated some key players, but returned a number of young ones who played key roles last season. The preseason talk speculated that Texas might have one of the best defenses in the country and in Brown's 15 seasons.
He tried to temper that, and not because he thought they might rank No. 63 in total defense and No. 40 in scoring defense after four games.
"We want the defense to live up to the expectations, but we said in 2010 that that could possibly be the best defense we had since we'd been at Texas and it didn't turn out that way," Brown said. "We lost four seniors down the middle from last year's group and we've got some new guys there now. Until they prove they're ready to step up and show leadership and an ability to handle Big 12 football at a fast pace, we have to wait until they prove it before anyone anoints them a great defense."
Texas is strong on the outside and that will challenge WVU. Brown said Byndom "will be one of the best defensive backs that we've had," and cornerback Quandre Diggs has already intercepted three passes. WVU leads the nation in passing offense and outside receivers Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods are Nos. 2 and 22 in receptions per game - and teammate Tavon Austin leads the nation at an inside position.