"We actually hit some people today," he said. "We were more physical on both sides of the ball."
Patterson has harped on it all through the spring and early this fall; to be a good team younger guys have to step up. The 2012 class already developed a reputation over the summer from older players as being physically and mentally prepared as they've seen from a freshman class. Patterson himself said potentially ten of those players could see the field as true freshmen a few weeks ago at Big 12 Media Days.
The head coach is already seeing a youth movement at several positions just four days into camp.
"Devonte Fields was running with the one's today half the time, he's got a chance to be a really good player," Patterson said. "Paul Dawson also ran with the ones; we had a couple guys dinged up in the linebacker group so everyone had to move up."
Joe Hasley and Danny Heiss were the two linebackers unable to go full speed.
On Thursday Patterson admitted that up to twelve of his talented freshmen could potentially see the field in 2012 with the way they're progressing early on. Last season the Frogs played five true freshmen which was a record for Patterson. While he'd like to redshirt all of them, it's tough to do that when they're making plays.
"I told you all that this freshmen class was special; we may play 10-12 guys out there," Patterson said. "I'd rather redshirt them but there are a lot of guys that can play on this team."
Two freshmen that drew Patterson's praise on Thursday were offensive linemen Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Collins received first team reps at left tackle on Thursday while Vaitai, or "Big V" as he's known, has already etched his way into the two-deep early on at right tackle.
"The two guys I really like that have been running with the two's and ran with the one's is Aviante Collins and Big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai)," Patterson said. "(Collins) was ahead of Tayo about half the reps today, he threw a guy down."
While it's easy to be excited about the potential of the freshman class, Patterson isn't ready to build them up too much after just four days of practice. But, it's also hard to miss the obvious impact they're making.
"Every indication up to this point, there's a lot of them making a lot of progress which is going to make us a better football team," Patterson said. "Look at McFarland and Lathan, I looked out there yesterday and the front six (on defense) were all freshmen and they were playing with the two's. It was Lathan, MacFarland, Davion Pierson, Devonte Fields, A.J. (Hilliard) and Dawson. Dawson is a sophomore but this is his first year here."
BEEN IN THEIR SHOES
When asked about the challenge TCU has that West Virginia doesn't as new members of the Big 12, Patterson was quick to point out on change his team went through that the Mountaineers are about to witness; distance. When TCU joined the Mountain West in 2008 the biggest challenge they faced as a team was the distance to travel to places such as Utah, BYU and Wyoming. Patterson used Utah and BYU as examples where the crowds play a big factor and because of location, TCU didn't have many fans. He says that will be a big change for them going to the Big 12 and used last year's crowd of 10,000 at Baylor. It's something Patterson says could be a challenge for the Mountaineers coming halfway across the country.
"One of the challenges they have is the same we had going to the Mountain West, you're traveling so far it's hard for a lot of people to go with you," Patterson said. "We went to Utah and take 1,000 they'd have 45,000. BYU would have 75,000. We went to Baylor and we took 10,000 with us. You've got to take your own energy."
Patterson was quick to point out that the good news for West Virginia and an advantage over TCU is they host the Horned Frogs in Morgantown this season and have two weeks to prepare.
TIGHT ENDS IMPRESSING
Along with the Frogs' talented group of receivers, the Frogs also field a talented bunch at tight end. Corey Fuller is considered by many to have a breakout year in 2012 and Stephen Bryant showed flashes as a redshirt freshman.
Patterson didn't hesitate in naming two players who have stood out at the position early on.
"Stephen Bryant and Griffin Gilbert is definitely going to help us in the pass game, he's just got to keep working on being more physical," the coach said of his tight ends. "He's definitely made a difference."
WHO WILL BE #3?
With Ed Wesley's departure for the NFL, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker assume the starting two roles at runningback. The big question is who will be third on the depth chart? True freshman B.J. Catalon had an excellent spring and is one of the freshmen Patterson has spoken highly of. Senior Aundre Dean has showed flashes as a bruising runningback. Has he done enough to warrant that third spot on the depth chart.
"They're all we got, there's nobody else unless they want me to suit up," he said. "They're all getting reps, we rotate them a lot."
True freshman Joey Hunt has moved from defensive tackle to center Coach Patterson said on Thursday. Hunt played guard and defensive tackle at El Campo and was an all-district selection for both.