MORGANTOWN - Keith Patterson and the rest of West Virginia's defensive coaches are experimenting a lot during the opening weeks of preseason camp.
They've done so much of it so far, in fact, that in retrospect the preseason depth chart now looks exactly what it was meant to be - a rough guide, nothing more and nothing less.
Players are constantly switched around, not only up and down on that depth chart but from position to position. It all comes with the territory when a new defensive scheme is being installed and the idea is to find the right pieces to the puzzle and put them where they fit best.
Nowhere has that movement been more active than in the linebacker corps. That preseason depth chart? Tear it up and start anew.
"There are some battles going on, that's for sure,'' said Patterson, who in addition to serving as the defensive co-coordinator coaches the inside linebackers. "It's kind of fun to watch.''
In essence, West Virginia's new 3-4 defensive alignment includes two inside linebackers, one on the weak side (Will) and the other on the strong side (Sam). There are also two outside linebackers, dubbed the Star and the Buck. The Buck is more of a traditional outside linebacker, while the Star is really a strong safety in disguise. That's where Terence Garvin will line up after spending his first three years at strong safety.
But through only a week of preseason camp, Garvin might be the only one among the linebackers whose position as a starter appears ironclad. Between the combination of all the players having to learn a new scheme and the position switches that have been made in the first week, the competition everywhere else seems wide open.