MORGANTOWN - Keith Patterson sat in the Milan Puskar center at a loss for words.
The West Virginia defensive coordinator couldn't explain what happened to his unit in a 47-40 overtime loss to Texas on Saturday night.
''I don't know how to describe it,'' Patterson said. ''We have people in position to make plays and for whatever reason we don't. I don't know how to fix it, really.
''First half we got them in third down and got them off the field. Second half we got them in third down, then put them in fourth down with the game on the line. I sent in the same exact call, fixing to hit the quarterback, (then we) back up and let them catch it right at the sticks. It's frustrating.''
What's more frustrating is the fact that during a stretch in the second half, Texas converted eight third downs in a row.
''They did the same thing (they were doing in the first half), it's just us not executing,'' safety Darwin Cook said. ''We were there, just didn't make the play. (Texas) made more plays than us.''
At halftime, the Longhorns were 1 of 9 on third down. They finished 10 of 23.
''I don't even know how to explain it,'' Patterson said. ''At some point in the second half, you just have to make plays. You've got to get them off the field.''
The unit seemed to when it counted most after two West Virginia turnovers set Texas up at the Mountaineers 7. On both occasions the defense held tight, pushing the Longhorns back a yard on their first attempt and holding them to a yard on the second.
Shot yardage situations weren't the only area where the unit saw success.
Texas entered the game averaging over 200 rushing yards per game, but finished with 152, just 37 at halftime.
''They realized they couldn't run the ball on us,'' Patterson said. ''We were very physical on them up front. The only run they had in the first half was a bust on us.''
Once Texas did realize, however, it decided to put the ball in the air, something the Mountaineers weren't completely prepared for.
''We didn't anticipate them throwing it 50 times,'' WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. ''(Case) McCoy did a good job and just continues to get better and better.''
It was evident as the game progressed.
McCoy started 9 of 20 for 86 yards, but by the end of the game, he was 25 of 47 for 267.
''For the first time all season I felt like the defense totally let (the offense) down,'' nose guard Shaq Rowell said. ''If you were to tell me before the game we were going to put up 40 points, I would have guaranteed a victory.
''Texas wanted it more. We came out in the first half and got four turnovers. In the second we didn't have any. We got outplayed, out coached, all that.''
The thing now is, the Mountaineers have to put the loss behind them. With two games left, West Virginia could still qualify for a bowl berth.
History isn't on the Mountaineers' side, though.
They haven't won back-to-back games all season and the last time the defense had a poor outing, i.e. Baylor, it took them weeks to recover.
This time, they have six days.
Tony Viola can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org