MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As West Virginia’s three-way quarterback scramble unfolds, redshirt freshman Ford Childress gets kudos for confidence.
“Obviously I want to start now,” he said Friday. “The whole reason I came here was so I’d have an opportunity to start for four years, and that’s what I’m planning on doing.”
Last season’s backup Paul Millard and Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, both juniors, have more game experience, but Childress doesn’t perceive that as a decisive factor. The 6-foot-5 three-star recruit from Houston said Dana Holgorsen’s spread offense isn’t some exotic system that requires years to comprehend.
“(Our offense) is actually really, really simple,” Childress said. “It looks complex, but it’s not. That’s what makes it so good—you don’t have to think that much.
When a reporter pointed out that last year’s Heisman Trophy went to another Texas-bred redshirt freshman operating out of a spread attack, Childress suggested that wasn’t startling.
“With a simple offense, you can make an impact no matter how old you are,” he said.
Childress even surmised he could have effectively operated West Virginia’s offense last season, though he acknowledged “I don’t think I could have done as dynamic a job as Geno did with his check and reads.”
With Geno Smith posting a second consecutive 4,000-yard passing season, the senior quarterback earned play-changing flexibility at the line. The result was a 42-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio for Smith and an offense that generated more than 500 yards and 39 points per game, ninth-most in the FBS. (“I don’t think Dana would like it if I changed every play, but Geno was at that point,” Childress said.)
Regardless whom Holgorsen taps as the starter, more than a decade’s worth of precedent shows he’s likely to produce 4,000 yards and a pile of touchdowns. The system constructed on simplicity, and refined by repetition, keeps churning out high-yield quarterbacks. And with such prosperity awaiting this fall’s chosen guy, the Ford-Millard-Trickett competition won’t lack for intensity.
“I’m good friends with Paul and Clint—we hang out all the time,” said Childress. “But on the field I’m not too fond of them.”
Millard said he anticipates Holgorsen naming a starter at least two weeks before the Aug. 31 opener against William & Mary. That means the next 15 practices could drastically impact the trajectory of three playing careers.
“You just show up every day and do what you can do,” Millard said.
The native of Flower Mound, Texas, made 10 appearances the past two seasons, all of them in mop-up situations except for his mercurial two-pass cameo at Oklahoma State (a 37-yard touchdown followed by a near-interception).
Millard’s career numbers: 16-of-34 passing with three touchdowns and the same number of interceptions.
Trickett played in 12 games at Florida State, amassing a stat line of 66-of-106 passing for 947 yards with seven touchdowns and four picks.
At the time Trickett announced May 1 his intentions of transferring to WVU, Millard was just days away from marrying his high school sweetheart. No, he didn’t spend his nuptials fretting about the quarterback race growing more crowded.
“I’m a competitive guy, so I was excited for the opportunity,” he said. “Obviously, I saw they were bringing someone else in, so the competition raised a little bit.”