MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- When the sun rose here Sunday morning, it hit all parts of a campus that claims a college football team that is 1-0 after a close call a day earlier. When put in that light, Saturday wasn't that bad for West Virginia University.
The Mountaineers trailed William & Mary for almost twice as long as they led, but they won 24-17 while seven other Football Bowl Subdivision teams lost to Football Championship Subdivision opponents. WVU wasn't too far from joining that list, but nevertheless moved to 13-0 against the FCS. Seventeen players saw their first action for WVU and eight were first-time starters.
Dana Holgorsen might have figured out his quarterback quandary with an efficient Paul Millard starting and finishing, and the head coach walked away further convinced a running game, paced by transfer Charles Sims, can lead the way.
And it was all accomplished for the tidy sum of $300,000, a rather insignificant amount of money paid to the Tribe when compared to the heists hoisted by other FCS teams.
The Mountaineers opened with a win for a 10th straight season and for the first time since 2010 it didn't come against Marshall.
The Thundering Herd is off the schedule and that might have been wonderful news for WVU faithful who witnessed the defense struggle historically last season and err often in the first half Saturday before Marshall hung up 52 points and 591 yards of offense against Miami University.
Things could have been far worse for WVU, though for a long while, times weren't exactly enjoyable.
In the opening half against a William & Mary team that was 2-9 in 2012 and debuted a new offensive coordinator before 56,350 at Mountaineer Field, the Mountaineer defense that allowed more points last year than ever before in school history and finished ranked No. 114 in scoring defense and No. 108 in total defense was having issues once again.
The Tribe averaged 5.6 yards per play in the first two quarters, converted 5 of 10 third downs, held onto the ball for 17:06 and, more significantly, led 17-7.
"We had some nerves, which was a little shocking, and we busted some assignments," said new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who was the co-coordinator last season. "We came in at halftime and there was no panic.
"We said, 'Look, guys, the bottom line is just do what you're supposed to do. There's no magical call you can make. There's no great adjustment. Why sit here after working on something all camp for four weeks and then come in and make some great halftime adjustment? Just do what you're coached to do.'"
Patterson's guidance was new and his more aggressive approach was new, but the novelties didn't stop there. He had four new starters, seven players who didn't play last season and four players in new positions.