MORGANTOWN - More than an hour after Tuesday night's football practice at West Virginia, Karl Joseph climbed the stairs that led away from the team's locker room and medical training area and took him to the team auditorium.
There, the freshman safety was the last of the Mountaineers to meet with the media.
This was both good and bad news for WVU. The interview was the last of anyone's worries. The time Joseph needed before it was more important.
Five games into his first season, he's combating soreness and Tuesday took extra time to address his neck and shoulders. Play the way he played against Texas and that will happen. Play every snap of two consecutive games and it will accumulate a little quicker.
What seems ominous is also promising, though. WVU really wants Joseph to take care of himself and that means taking the extra time before and after games and practices - even on off days to keep fit. The Mountaineers want the starter who's been so good the first five games to be around for the final eight.
"There's no question we have to be careful with him because he plays so hard," defensive coordinator and safeties coach Joe DeForest said. "The longer we get into this league and the more plays he's going to play, he may get worn down by the end of the season if we don't limit him. We have to do a better job; I have to do a better job of getting him out of there. Sometimes that's hard to do."
This is DeForest's dilemma and it's better understood by looking at recent precedent. As the fifth-ranked Mountaineers (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) visit Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (WCHS telecast), they do so with an eye on Andrew Buie.
The running back carried 31 times against Texas and 25 a week before against Baylor and Coach Dana Holgorsen, who has lost one running back to injury already this season, wonders how much more Buie can take.
As a freshman in 2011, Buie absorbed hits like a sponge on a spill and couldn't stay in the lineup. He's 20 pounds stronger and thicker now and he can recover quicker, but this wasn't the case last season.
Joseph is much the same. He's played all 170 snaps on defense, and a few more on special teams, the past two games and managed 16 tackles. Yet with Joseph, tackles are often events and that 5-foot-11, 195-pound body can feel it as much as it can deal it.
"It's football," he said. "You've got to go all-out every play, every game. You can't really save yourself. That's just how I play."
The Mountaineers are fine with that, though to an extent and not to an extreme. DeForest wants see Joseph pick his spots, which means knowing the time and the place for a technical tackle instead of a missile launch.
Yet WVU doesn't want to see Joseph slowing up and trying to protect himself because that's when bad things can happen to the player and the defense.