MORGANTOWN - The sights preceded the sounds at West Virginia University football practice on Thursday. In one instant, freshman safety K.J. Dillon dominated an Oklahoma drill by wiping out a blocker and a ball carrier before he jumped and thumped his chest while defensive teammates joined him.
An instant later, receiver Dante Campbell was blocking and drove a defensive back to the artificial turf as a huddle of offensive teammates flooded in from the side to celebrate.
The afternoon went like that for almost three hours, with the offense and the defense trading triumphs.
"What I like is it became more competitive and there was more energy as the practice went on," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "That means these guys are excited about being out there and excited about playing."
It wasn't the first day the Mountaineers had vivid displays of enthusiasm, or the first time they approached or even crossed the line, but it was the most active day.
Holgorsen said the seventh day and eighth practice was an example of how invested everyone is in preparations for a season that begins with WVU ranked No. 11 and expected to compete for the Big 12 Conference championship.
"We coach it. That's what they pay us to do," Holgorsen said. "That's something we believe in. We talk a lot about body language, we talk a lot about confidence, we talk a lot about effort, energy, excitement, a lot of that stuff.
"I truly believe you can coach that stuff, like you coach guys where to line up and like you coach specific plays. The guys have to buy into it and feel good about it and want to do it, but you coach it and steer them in the right direction."
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THE OKLAHOMA drill started practice, but Holgorsen ended it with about 20 plays in the part of the field he calls the score zone - similar to the red zone.
"Fun," he said. "One thing as a head coach that gets me kind of fired up is we put the ball down and play it and score and the offense runs into the end zone and has a good time. The next time we put it down and play it, we throw an interception in the end zone and the defense hoots and hollers.
"They have a good time going back and forth. Anytime it's just completely one sided, you're not going to be any good. When it goes back and forth, you have a chance to be successful."
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THAT 20-PLAY live scrimmage situation is about as long as Holgorsen will let his offense go against his defense in either the spring or preseason.
"I don't like scrimmages," he said.
Rather than have a 120-play scrimmage to take up a practice, Holgorsen said he'd prefer repeating drills and skills every day and occasionally slip in a scrimmage situation. That way, WVU works on specific ideas, like inside running and blocking, pass rushing, route running or special teams and then later stresses the players by going live and with consequences.