MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - As if the action on the field isn't enough to occupy Keith Patterson, West Virginia's defensive coordinator tracks a conflict that goes on inside his head throughout every game.
"I try to keep a clear mind, but that's the hardest thing about being on the field - sometimes I get caught up in the emotion," he said.
With Saturday's 30-21 victory over then-No. 11 Oklahoma State finally secured by one more marquee moment by the defense, Patterson could no longer help himself and tried to touch the sky.
"I think I may have hurt my knee on that one," he said.
It's Patterson and his urges that have helped WVU's defense make its jump this season.
This is not a dominant outfit, but it is far from the defense that was undressed so frequently last season and it follows Patterson's personality and the coach's internal combat. He'll do battle again Saturday in a game (Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m.) at No. 17 Baylor (3-0). The Bears lead the nation in scoring offense, total offense and passing offense.
"Sometimes I have to really temper that emotion," Patterson said. "I get a little too aggressive at making calls. But I always try to keep a clear mind and keep playing. I always try to think forward about adjustments I have to make the next three or four series."
His aggressive emotions and tactics do help the Mountaineers, who already have nine sacks after finishing with just 23 last season and nine quarterback hurries after only 11 in 2012.
Not coincidentally, WVU has eight interceptions, which is just two below last season's total, and 37 tackles for a loss, which is 14 more than the 2012 total.
Yet there's a bad side to it that Patterson is still refining, though that's also happening in his first season in charge of the Mountaineers with a slew of new players and starters and as he deals with injuries on the defensive line and at linebacker.
Oklahoma State managed 21 points in 19 possessions and only once broke the WVU defense. That came in the first quarter on a 73-yard touchdown pass on a middle screen from J.W. Walsh to Josh Stewart.
It was the perfect set of circumstances for the Cowboys.
"That was my fault," Patterson said. "I got a little bit aggressive with the linebackers and they got sling-shotted out the field side and overran it. By the time they got back, (Oklahoma State had) already gotten vertical. That was probably not a very smart call."
Yet Patterson's attacking style worked a short time later, too. WVU was playing a Cover 2 defense with man-to-man coverage underneath two safeties. Cornerback Ishmael Banks stayed with his receiver and was in the neighborhood of Walsh's poor pass to a different receiver. He returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown.
On what turned out to be the game's decisive sequence, WVU was protecting its end zone and a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter by crowding the line scrimmage, which left the corners alone outside.