After defensive coordinator Keith Patterson voluntarily left the West Virginia Mountaineers this offseason to become the new DC for the Arizona State Sun Devils, WVU is on the hunt for their fourth DC in as many years. For a team that has struggled to consistently play good defense under Dana Holgorsen, the constant turnover on defense is doing the Mountaineers no favors. Will they be able to withstand another change of leadership on defense?
During Holgorsen’s first season as head coach in 2012, the Mountaineers were undone late in the season by their defense and the group finished No. 8 in the Big 12 in total defense. Last season, looking to take a step forward under their new DC Patterson, WVU actually got worse, finishing No. 9 in total defense in the conference in 2013 (though they allowed almost 20 fewer yards per game). They have give up more than 450 yards per game on average for the last two seasons since joining the Big 12 and have struggled to get the Mountaineers into the hunt for a conference title.
As they attempt to take the next step as a program, they will need to fix their issues on the defensive side of the ball. That would have been much easier to accomplish if they could have counted on the continuity of their coaching staff but Patterson’s departure leaves them starting from scratch once again. It is difficult to build much of a defense when you’ve got a new architect building it from the ground up each and every offseason.
For Holgorsen, getting the defense on the right track will go a long way in finding some sustained success in the Big 12 in 2014. Will the Mountaineers be able to do that with another new face leading the defense next fall?