MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's defense may have controlled a majority of Saturday's spring football game, and even won it thanks to stops and turnovers, but that overshadows the way things started.
The Mountaineers' offense scored touchdowns on its first two possessions for a 14-0 lead. The drives went nine plays for 75 yards and 13 plays for 80 yards. The offense was 3-for-4 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down and scored two touchdowns on four snaps in the red one.
This was with the first-team offense against the second-team defense and then the second-team offense against the first-team defense and, perhaps most significantly, this was with Shannon Dawson in control really for the first time as the unencumbered offensive coordinator.
"He's more fast pace, spread-it-out, throw-it-every-down than I am," said Coach Dana Holgorsen, who doubled as the coordinator last season, but handed off to Dawson in the offseason. "I'm a little more conservative as the head coach. He doesn't really care."
One guy who's known and admired the other for many years can say that in jest, but there's a lot of truth in that, too.
"I think that's pretty accurate - I call it a little bit more reckless than he does," Dawson said. "He's a lot more conservative than I am, but everyone's got their own personality, their own way of doing things."
Dawson and Holgorsen will still cooperate as they run the offense. Dawson will be in the box above the field and talk to Holgorsen before every play, as was the case last year, but the plan is for Dawson to call the plays and set the tempo on offense.
He'll yield to Holgorsen when the man in charge exercises his veto power, but Dawson is no less important to WVU in 2012 than quarterback Geno Smith or receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
He has experience, though, and he's done it with great success. Dawson was the coordinator in 2006-07 at Millsaps and then at Stephen F. Austin from 2008-10, where the Lumberjacks threw and scored like crazy and led or ranked near the top of Division I-AA in key categories.
Along for the ride was Erik Slaughter, WVU's first-year defensive line coach who did that job at SFA from 2009-11.
"I was impressed with his ability during the game to make adjustments and notice what needs to be done and notice what works and does not work," Slaughter said. "Having the ability to call plays in this offense is one thing. To do it at a fast pace the way they do is another.