Whether Patterson has considered it or not - let's face it, he's got more to worry about than offensive rankings - the Texas Tech game marked a line that West Virginia's defense is now beyond. Not only were the Mountaineers' first four Big 12 opponents the four Top 25 teams the league has, they were the best offenses. Of the five remaining opponents, only the Texas offense is statistically in the top half of the league in most significant measurements.
Kansas State, TCU, Kansas and Iowa State are not what anyone would consider explosive, or at least they haven't been to date.
"Yeah, but now you just have different kind of challenges,'' Patterson said.
Truth be told, West Virginia actually met some of those challenges in the first four games against those top-tier offenses. It's easy to forget given the last two games, but WVU's defense handled Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Shoot, it's easy for the Mountaineer defenders themselves to forget.
"That Baylor game did so much to our psyche,'' Patterson said. "We didn't take the field [against Texas Tech] with the confidence that we'd taken it the first six. We didn't play with that confidence. We played like, 'Man, I hope we can get off the field. I hope we can cover.' At least that's what it seemed like and felt like to me. We kind of lost our swagger.''
The Texas Tech game probably didn't help them get any of it back, but as Patterson correctly points out it was still a huge improvement. The only real downfall was that when it counted the most - on those crucial third downs in the fourth quarter - it just wasn't there.
"We put so much emphasis on it that I sound like a broken record, but it's the key to how we play defense,'' Patterson said. "Three-and-outs, tackles for loss, trying to impact the quarterback and getting off the field on third down. And the last two games we haven't gotten off the field.
"But let me just tell you, Texas Tech and Baylor had a lot to do with that - who you're covering. More power to them. You've got to give them credit.''
There is, of course, no guarantee that West Virginia's defense won't make some of the remaining offenses, heretofore vanilla, look like world-beaters. The Mountaineers do have that history.
But at least the rest of the way they would seem to have a fighting chance, which is what Patterson hopes his group will do - fight.
"And these kids will,'' Patterson said. "There's still a lot of meat left on the bone.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.