During the first 10 days of West Virginia's fall camp, Mitchell has done a lot of experimenting. In fact, on the first day of camp, the first time the No. 1 defense trotted onto the field Bell was one of the corners, along with Jenkins. A few days later Worley, who wasn't even on campus until this summer, was with the ones. Almost everyone, it seems has gotten his shot.
Part of that might have something to do with performance, but for Mitchell it's more about seeing how players react.
"It's the master plan,'' Mitchell said. "How can I strain these individuals, not just from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint? If you're with the ones and all of a sudden your production goes down and you get bumped back down to the twos or the threes, how are you going to respond? That's part of the plan. And any time I can create those kinds of scenarios, it's going to make us a stronger unit.''
There's also the question of how those players are going to respond to what happened last year. True, some of them weren't involved or, in the case of Worley, even on the roster. But they have to hear almost every day how bad the defense was, the back end of it in particular.
But they don't hear it from Mitchell. Like the rest of the coaches, he's determined not to talk about 2012.
"If you have any pride about yourself, you'll want to right the ship. You'll know,'' Mitchell said. "If you don't wake up every morning and self-evaluate, then you're not the right guy. There has to be some humility in this sport, and part of that humility is a growing process. And the growing process is to learn from your past mistakes and not make those mistakes in the future.''
That attitude has been passed down, too.
"If it doesn't motivate you,'' Jenkins said, "then you aren't in the right mode of thinking.''
It helps, too, that the scheme and the coaches have changed.
"The way we're being taught now is a whole different way and a better way to make us comfortable,'' Jenkins said. "Last year, we were over-thinking things too much and we really had to rely on ourselves to get things done. With coach Mitchell and the new scheme, it helps us just go out and be the player that we can be.''
So, in the grand scheme of things has Mitchell made any progress?
"You ever chop wood?'' Mitchell asked. "You just have to keep chopping and one day you have a wood pile.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at twitter.com/dphickman1