MORGANTOWN - Classes for the West Virginia University football players start Monday, which normally signals an end to the summer training camp.
Don't tell that to defensive coach Keith Patterson.
"I told them that camp isn't over for me," he said. "It won't be over next week. Even though school is officially starting, to me, camp is still not over. We don't have an opponent. We can continue to progress as a defense. We can continue to focus on us. Camp isn't over for me."
An improved defense is something the Mountaineers desperately need as they head into their second Big 12 Conference season.
"The picture for our players is that a diamond doesn't become a diamond without intense heat and pressure," Patterson said. "Maybe the politically correct way to put it is that we apply a lot of heat and pressure on our players and our coaches to try to get them uncomfortable and maintain that discipline when the bullets start flying on the field. When you come to adversity, you have to focus and concentrate on the big picture, which is your assignments and responsibilities."
Defensive lineman Shaq Rowell believes his assignment will be to occupy two or three blockers so that his teammates behind him can be free to do their jobs.
"If I do that, it means the linebackers behind me are making a lot of plays," Rowell said. "If they do, it makes me look better. The fans may not see it, but the linebackers know. They're not stupid."
Rowell said the linemen are looking to have more of a pass rush this season, saying it will take the pressure off the defensive backs if opposing quarterbacks are forced to look at safety-valve options.
"If we get more pressure, that means more passes will be going side to side instead of north and south," he said. "We can be more successful."
Senior Will Clarke said there is more depth along the defensive front this year, which he believes will allow the players to stay fresh longer into the game.
"You're human, so you get tired," he said. "I am very confident in our depth. It allows us guys that start to get more of a break and for everyone to catch their breath."
Kyle Rose said he and a handful of others will play both on the outside and inside of that interior line.
"I look at us as a unit," he said. "It's whoever needs to be in to make the play."