MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Jeff Mullen's recollection of spring football at West Virginia this past April is pretty vivid and pretty unusual.
"We had limited success for the first time in three years," the offensive coordinator said. "That fired us up a little bit."
The Mountaineers were inspired not because they'd done poorly and thought they could do better, but because that limited success was actually better than what they'd become accustom to against the WVU defense,
"We felt like we might be onto something," Mullen said. "If we can move it against those guys, you've got a chance."
Right then, WVU's offensive initiative for the 2010 season was born. Never did or has the offense aimed for mediocrity or accepted just some success, but at that point it was clear it could be enough to win games more often than not this season.
It's a difficult concept to grasp, particularly at WVU, but it's one the Mountaineers have no difficulty accepting or explaining.
"We score 20, 21 points, I already know it's a victory in the books," said receiver Jock Sanders.
That's about as bold as a hook-and-lateral in the red zone, but that's the Mountaineers. What you might have considered to be conservative in Thursday's 20-6 victory against USF was instead calculated and defined by the defense.
"We call plays based upon how they're playing," Mullen said.
"There are times we've got to score a bunch - not often - but when you get out there and they're doing a really good job, you don't want to give the opponent a short field and you want to eat clock. In the second half, we got that sense and what you saw, I attribute that directly to a defense playing its rear end off."
The Mountaineers had a pedestrian scoring drive that wasn't particularly entertaining and didn't even reach the end zone, but took 6:50 off the clock and ended with a field goal that put the game's final score on the board.
WVU was convinced the Bulls couldn't score 14 points in the final 18 minutes.
When the offense got the ball back, it took no chances and controlled the ball and the game clock and kept B.J. Daniels on the sideline just to be certain.