MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia's defense may be better this season than it was a year ago - though how much is open to debate after the past few games - but this defense is having a hard time with something that never troubled the 2012 defense: confidence.
Last year's Mountaineers never had it. This year's Mountaineers are letting it get away.
"We kind of lost our swagger a little bit," West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "Kids are starting to play a little more tentative, a little more cautious instead of challenging people."
There is no mistaking the cause, either. WVU still hasn't recovered from the 73-point, 864-yard debacle at Baylor 17 days ago.
"The deal at Baylor was unlike anything I've ever been associated with in my life," Patterson said. "It was just catastrophic in a lot of ways to our psyche."
WVU failed to sack Texas Tech freshman quarterback Davis Webb in 50 pass attempts, and Webb passed for 462 yards in his second career start (first on the road). If it wasn't clear by Webb's performance, then it was in the manner the Mountaineers allowed the game's first 10 points and final three touchdowns to lose 37-27.
That wasn't the defense Patterson was so proud of after five weeks.
After an interception return for a touchdown and only 21 points allowed in 19 possessions against then-No. 11 Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers were ranked No. 36 nationally in scoring defense and No. 37 in total defense.
They've given up 1,437 yards and 110 points the past two games and are now ranked Nos. 84 and 103, respectively.
They've also slipped to No. 96 in pass defense, which was the team's undoing in 2012, and sacked the quarterback just once the past two games. Ten sacks for the season are good enough to rank No. 109.
"We were steam-rolling and playing with so much confidence coming off of Oklahoma State and then just like that, you go, 'Wow,'" Patterson said. "I just didn't see us playing with any of that swagger and confidence. It was like we were in position at times to make plays, whereas earlier in the season we were finishing them."
Safety Darwin Cook, who has four interceptions, couldn't catch a pass that hit him in the hands on the first play of the game. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski missed a chance to intercept a pass in Red Raiders territory in the fourth quarter on the drive that ended with Texas Tech's final touchdown.