WVU shuffles football coaching alignment
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Unlike the first postseason change he made to his defensive staff, Dana Holgorsen is staying quiet about this one for now, but it appears that he has made a change at the top.
Several sources Tuesday said that Holgorsen will switch the roles of Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest on West Virginia's defensive coaching staff, promoting Patterson to the lead role.
Patterson would go from being the defensive co-coordinator to the coordinator, the title DeForest held this season. DeForest would assume Patterson's role as the co-coordinator, which is in essence the assistant.
Holgorsen could not be reached to confirm the move, but no one associated with the program denied it, either.
"I think everything you've heard is probably true,'' said one source within the athletic department.
If true, it would be the second significant change Holgorsen has made to his defensive staff in the past four days. On Saturday he fired cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts.
Moving Patterson into the coordinator's spot would not be a huge surprise. Midway through the season, with WVU's defense struggling mightily, he and DeForest changed game-day positions - DeForest moving from the sideline to the press box and Patterson from the press box to the sideline.
DeForest at the time said he welcomed the move because it gave him a chance to separate himself from the usual chaos on the field and better see what his defense and the opposing offense were doing. He continued to call the defenses, calling them down to the sideline and having them relayed to the field.
How much of an effect, if any, that had on the performance of the defense is debatable. The move was made after a 55-14 loss to Kansas State on Oct. 20, seven games into the season. While the team defense performed better at times over the final five games, it still finished near the bottom of most of the national statistical categories.
Over those final five games those rankings went from No. 113 to No. 108 in total defense, but remained virtually the same in scoring defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense.
Those latter statistics were probably the reason Roberts was fired a week after the regular season ended and before West Virginia's Dec. 29 game with Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Patterson, unlike DeForest before him, has experience as a defensive coordinator. He served in that role at Pitt in 2011 and was even the Panthers' head coach for one game, filling in for the BBVA Compass Bowl after Todd Graham left for Arizona State. He was also a coordinator at Tulsa under Graham.
Patterson came to West Virginia this winter after taking a job as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas State. He resigned that position before ever attending a practice to come to WVU.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.