MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - If nothing else, the 2012 football season served as an education for West Virginia's defensive players, especially those charged with playing the back end of that defense.
They learned what it was like to see players run past them, again and again.
It can, of course, be argued that that's not exactly the best kind of experience anyone can endure, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?
Take Ishmael Banks, for instance. He had a front-row seat for much of the carnage that was West Virginia's pass defense last season, playing both cornerback and safety. While it's not something he ever wants to repeat, it was at least instructive.
"I got a lot of experience, and experience plays a big role in football,'' Banks said. "As long as you learn from your mistakes, it'll help you.''
As West Virginia resumes spring practice this week after a lull for spring break, some of the most important work is being done on the defensive side of things. There are new coaches and new ideas, but at least for the spring there aren't many new players.
So the task these days is to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things with the same players. Steve Patterson is in his first season as the full-time defensive coordinator, while cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell and safeties coach Tony Gibson are new to the staff.
"I think they're trying to keep it as simple as possible so we can just go out and play ball,'' Banks said. "We're still doing some of the same things, but the concept is a little different. They want us to be able to attack the ball different ways and show different looks, but still keep it simple.''
Simplifying things for Banks would be a welcome relief. It's not that he can't handle the complicated, but last season he was asked to do more than most. He played both cornerback and safety, the latter forced by injuries that depleted the safeties.