These Mountaineers are replacing players, too. They're without defensive lineman Jorge Wright, linebackers Terence Garvin and Josh Francis and cornerback Pat Miller. Defensive back Cecil Level is the only other defender who played in the bowl and won't play for the team this season.
"Hopefully the program is healthier now to where when you lose guys - and you're going to lose guys every year - that you're able to put guys in position to be successful quicker," Holgorsen said. "I don't think the health of the program was very good before that. When we lost guys like that, it was hard to replace them. We had to replace them with freshmen, which is not the sign of a very healthy program."
This is guesswork until WVU dares to release a revised depth chart, but Wright is likely to be replaced by either Hyman, who was a junior college All-American, redshirt sophomore Kyle Rose, who played every game and started once last season, or sophomore Eric Kinsey, who played in all 13 games.
Christian and Wes Tonkery - a junior with 22 career games and one start - could replace Garvin at one outside position while Golson or Dozie Ezemma, a former-walk on with 12 career games and a lot of credibility in the eyes of the coaches, would replace Francis.
Miller's spot is harder to fill because WVU only has five healthy options, but the Mountaineers weren't stable there last year, either. Junior Travis Bell and Worley are converted safeties. Brandon Napoleon redshirted as a freshman last season. Sophomore Avery Williams missed 2012 with a neck injury. Junior Ishmael Banks has moved between safety and corner in his career, but Holgorsen said Monday Banks, "is playing, I think, probably as good as anybody."
Patterson, who was promoted to his position between the end of the regular season and the bowl game, is working with his old players to craft a new, healthier image.
"There's a lot of the same guys on the field, but when you couple everything we've done from a mental training (standpoint) that we started in January with the physical, we're different in that regard," Patterson said. "It remains to be seen if we're a different defense, because we haven't played yet, but our kids have the expectation to be different.
"I don't think there's one area where our kids are not motivated to, first of all, individually be a batter player, be a better teammate and be better in every regard than what they were 12 months ago. I believe if we continue to progress the way we've been progressing since January, then we're going to be OK."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.