Battle for starting quarterback just getting started
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 01:03
Spring football is officially underway in Morgantown, and according to head coach Dana Holgorsen, he expects open competition at every position this year.
Naturally, this includes the quarterback position, which may have the biggest shoes to fill after the departure of Geno Smith, the most prolific offensive quarterback in the history of West Virginia University.
But Holgorsen said not even Smith’s shoes will be impossible to fill for the upcoming season.
"Everybody gets up in arms thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, how are these guys going to play football without those guys who are going to be drafted in the NFL?’," Holgorsen said. "It happens every year, and in every different program across the country, you lose people, and you try to move forward.
"And this gives younger guys the opportunity to step up and believe that they are the guy. That naturally happens; guys get older and get more reps, but also the burden is on their shoulders to become better players. I’m looking forward to seeing which guys those are going to be."
Following Smith’s departure, there are four potential candidates to step in for the Mountaineers at quarterback: junior Paul Millard, redshirt freshman Ford Childress, redshirt junior transfer Logan Moore and true freshman Chavas Rawlins.
Millard, who has supported Smith for the last two seasons, is believed to be the initial favorite by some simply because of his existing experience at the FBS-level and specifically within Holgorsen’s system.
But even Millard’s experience is somewhat limited, considering he was only used the last two seasons to mop up after Smith had worked the Mountaineers into a safe lead.
Millard has completed 16-of-34 pass attempts for 211 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in his time under center for West Virginia.
"Paul’s got more experience," Holgorsen said. "He probably understands the offense a little better than the other guys, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to give him more reps. Because it’s not where they’re at right now, it’s where they’re going to end up in six months."
A close second behind Millard is Childress, a highly recruited quarterback from Texas. The fact he hasn’t taken an actual in-game snap yet may hold him back initially, but Holgorsen claimed during the spring football luncheon that Childress is actually as anxious and excited as anybody to get spring football underway.
"Ford’s very motivated at this point right now," Holgorsen said. "It’s hard to be a redshirt freshman quarterback, so he wasn’t nearly as motivated a year ago as he is right now, obviously."
Holgorsen said he thought Rawlins, the only true freshman quarterback among the group, is where Childress and Millard were one year ago, "learning and hearing things for the first time," and Moore, who just transferred to WVU from nearby Fairmont State University, was also doing some good things during the offseason.
So, although Millard and Childress may hold a small edge heading into spring practice, there’s also obviously no clear-cut favorite for the starting responsibilities at the quarterback position for the Mountaineers this season.
Holgerson said it’s going to take quite a while before any final decisions can be made any time in the near future unless one candidate visibly outperforms everyone else during the spring, which the third-year WVU head coach doesn’t expect to happen.
"I would assume everyone kind of wants to know about the quarterback situation. I’m more anxious than you are," Holgorsen said. "We’ve got a lot of practices ahead of us, and we won’t name a starter for a while.
"We’re going to have lots of opportunities to evaluate these guys. They need a lot of drill work; they need a lot of team snaps; they need a lot of skill reps and a lot of inside reps just to get comfortable with the offense.
"And again, we’ll evaluate them, but they’re going to show so much improvement. We’ll need to see which guy shows the most improvement and puts us in the best position to be successful before we make that decision."