Back to Square One

Staff Writer
Posted Sep 11, 2013


Dana Holgorsen didn’t pull many punches when evaluating the performance of Paul Millard against Oklahoma.

The junior was starting his second career game at quarterback for West Virginia, and struggled at times to move the ball the way he did in the opener against William & Mary.

Millard finished the game 21-of-41 with just 218 yards and an interception. Through the first two games of the season, the Mountaineers have thrown just one touchdown – the first time they haven’t had at least two after the first two games since 2005.

“His performance was OK, it was just OK,” Holgorsen said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. “I can’t sit here and tell you it was an awesome performance and that he did everything we asked him to do, because that would be a lie. The continuity between him and the receivers was just not there and it needed to be there.”

Because of that, West Virginia is opening its quarterback competition back up, giving junior Clint Trickett and even redshirt freshman Ford Childress more reps leading up to West Virginia’s game against Georgia State this weekend.

While they aren’t sure of how many series each quarterback will play, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said they will all likely get at least one series to show what they can do.

From there, much like the first game against William & Mary where Millard played all but two series, the one who plays the best will likely end up taking the most snaps.

“If I was a psychic I would already know,” Dawson said. “I’m going to put them in there and if you’re playing good you’re probably going to play more. If you stumble, you’re probably not going to play a lot. I can promise them one series, but what they do from there will determine whether they get five or six or if they just get one.”

It’s essentially going back to the drawing board for a coaching staff that is still trying to find some way to get the best team on the field on the offense and get them to play as well as they can.

But it’s something Dawson knew could take some time with all of the players WVU lost a year ago. They just don’t know how much more they’ll need to get where they want to be – especially when it comes to finding a solution in the even quarterback race.

”We don’t know when this team is going to mesh. We have no idea,” he said. “The best thing I can do is stay extremely positive with those guys. It’s frustrating to me, it’s tough and it wears on you when you have that much competition because people can get down.

It’s the same thing I told Ford and Clint whenever we went with Paul, I said ‘Your opportunity might come Week Three, it might come Week Five, but when it comes you’ve got to be mentally prepared to capitalize on it.’”

Childress is one person to took that advice to heart. After learning that he was getting his reps cut significantly so that the staff could look primarily at Millard and Trickett, the freshman continued to work on getting better.

And it didn’t go unnoticed by Dawson and Holgorsen, who plan on giving him an equal chance with the two juniors this week to earn his place as the starter.

“I told him when we cut his reps that the worst thing you could do is tank it because you’re probably going to get another opportunity. So when you get it, you’ve got to be mentally ready,” Dawson said. “He didn’t agree with it, but I wouldn’t expect anybody to agree with it. That’s great. I’m glad because if you do agree with it, there’s a problem.

“He didn’t agree with it but he kept practicing and playing and kept his mental focus and now he’s getting his opportunity.”

For now, the Mountaineers are still searching for their answer. They don’t know when they’re going to find that answer, but they’d like for it to be sooner than later.

But that can be tough when you’re looking for that answer while spreading playing time equally between three players.

“I’ve been around these guys a lot, it’s just about getting them familiar with the game plan,” Dawson said. “We’re not dumping 90 reps into a guy, so you’ve got to get these guys ready to play on minimal reps. We’re just trying to figure out what each guy gives us.”


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