Yet, as the days draw closer to the Mountaineers’ Aug. 31 kickoff against William & Mary, they have still not named who will take the first snaps of the 2013 season.
It does appear that a decision is getting closer based on the depth chart, which had the starter listed as junior Paul Millard or junior Clint Trickett with redshirt freshman Ford Childress behind them. But the third-year head coach says the competition between Millard and Trickett is so close that the competition might spill over into the regular season.
“We haven’t picked one yet, but I’m not as antsy as I thought I’d be with it,” Holgorsen said on the Big 12 Coaches Teleconference Monday. “They’ve kind of risen their game a little bit and they’re battling.
“We had to kind of cut some of Ford’s reps a little bit just because the other two were playing a little bit better. I think Ford’s probably going to end up being a tremendous quarterback for us, no doubt, but it’s just really hard to rep three quarterbacks so we had to kind of narrow it down. Once we did that Paul and Clint have both looked good, so we thought it was warranted to keep the competition going.”
Of the two quarterbacks battling it out for the starting job, Holgorsen has seen plenty of things he likes. And they both bring a little something different to the table.
Millard, of course, has spent the last two seasons as the backup to Geno Smith – waiting in the wings for his opportunity to become the starter. Trickett was E.J. Manuel’s backup at Florida State for two seasons, earning a few starts along the way when Manuel had to miss some time with injuries.
“How it plays out, I don’t know yet. We thankfully have practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to see where we’re at,” Holgorsen said. “Paul knows the offense better, he’s a little more comfortable with the communication. Clint’s seasoned, has more game experience and has really good leadership skills and remains calm under pressure.
“Ultimately, it’s about the guy who’s not going to make the mistakes, which is kind of what our offense is all about.”
WVU released its post-camp depth chart heading into the regular season Sunday and on the conference call Monday he discussed what he sees the rotation being like for the guys those two quarterbacks will be throwing to this season at the receiver positions.
K.J. Myers and Ivan McCartney were listed as the starters at the outside receiver positions, with Kevin White and Ronald Carswell behind them, while Daikiel Shorts was placed as the starting inside receiver in front of Devonte Mathis.
But there are still a handful of receivers, including players like junior college transfer Mario Alford and highly touted freshman Shelton Gibson who could end up being a factor by the time the season is over.
“We have a two-deep, and it’s always been that way, so we could play about eight,” Holgorsen said. “Once a guy establishes that he is the main guy at that specific position, then it reduces the backup reps barring any injuries that we have.
“The top-end guys we had last year were just that much better than the other guys so they played a considerable amount of snaps more than the backups did, but we always went into each game with about eight guys who were capable of playing.”
Unlike the offense, Holgorsen and new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson have a good amount of experience returning from last year’s unit that struggled mightily. But that experience and that ability to know the scheme better will help the defense make big strides, Holgorsen thinks.
“It's a lot of the same guys, they're just a year older," Holgorsen said. "Their knowledge of the defense is better, the experience is better. Last year we played eight true freshmen and this year we've added a couple of freshmen that we feel pretty good about from a talent perspective and a couple of junior college guys that could give us more depth."
Regardless of what side of the ball you look at, expectations aren’t as high for WVU this season as they were a year ago – and that doesn’t surprise Holgorsen. But he does think that once the Mountaineers take the field and those unknowns start to reveal themselves, they can surprise a few people.
“Our team (last season) was known for strong personalities on offense, and when those guys are gone, it’s kind of just the unknown that’s out there now. We’ve got a lot of bodies on the offensive side that are capable of playing but nobody really knows who they are yet. It’s just going to take some games before people identify that,” he said. “And with the lackluster performance defensively that we had on several different occasions, we’ve got those guys coming back and hopefully we’ll be better on that side.”