Freshman backup QB Millard takes advantage of opportunity in first game
Published: Monday, September 12, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 12, 2011 22:09
Life as a backup quarterback is unpredictable. Sometimes one can go an entire season without ever having his number called. Other times, an injury could force the backup into a starter's role in a matter of seconds.
West Virginia freshman backup quarterback Paul Millard saw his first collegiate action on Saturday against Norfolk State.
Millard picked up right where starting quarterback Geno Smith left off midway through the fourth quarter. He got to throw his first touchdown pass on his first drive.
"I love it," Smith said. "Paul did a great job. It is something that he will enjoy for the rest of his career. That first touchdown is very special."
After a few mishaps on the first couple plays of the drive, Millard was able to gather his composure and lead the Mountaineers down the field. It is something he will never forget.
"It was a great feeling," Millard said. "You find a college you want to go to, you come here and you get to get going as a freshman and throw your first touchdown. It's a great feeling.
"It was great being out there with the guys and to get the first one under my belt. Hopefully, there is a lot more of those in the future."
The Flower Mound, Texas, native spent the majority of the game Saturday on the sidelines awaiting his opportunity. Playing in front of that many fans was something Millard had never experienced.
"You sit there all game and you wait to get your chance," Millard said. "I've never been a guy that gets too nervous, but of course a little bit came over me."
A luxury for the backup signal caller is that the system and game plan didn't change when he entered the game. Most times, the backup quarterback usually enters a game just to hand the ball off and run the clock.
"I got to run similar plays to what Geno had run all game," Millard said. "I credit that to the coaches, they let me go out and still play."
At the 3:38 mark of the fourth quarter, Millard grasped the moment. He found wide receiver Bradley Starks for a 30-yard touchdown pass. The score gave West Virginia a 55-12 lead.
"I saw the coverage and knew there was a good shot at it," Millard said. "It was fourth-and-eight. I had my chance out there; might as well take advantage of it. I just let it go and good things happened."
The touchdown pass was great for Millard's confidence. As mentioned before, the unpredictability of his position could force him into action at any point in time. It is essential for Millard to become acquainted with the sights and sounds of college football.
"Paul needed those reps," Smith said. "He needs game experience because anything can happen. God forbid I go down and he would have to step up."