MORGANTOWN. W.Va. — It’s Decision Saturday for West Virginia’s quarterbacks, according to the timeline put forth by head coach Dana Holgorsen and his right-hand play-calling man, Shannon Dawson. Within a fortnight of the season opener, the deadline for picking a horse and putting him in the shotgun is now.

Might it be Paul Millard, the Texas kid who apprenticed under Geno Smith the past two seasons?

Could it be Ford Childress, the other, slightly larger Texas kid who opened camp saying he came here “to start for four years, and that’s what I’m planning on doing.”

Or will the torch, and a 4,000-yard passing season, go to Clint Trickett, the quasi-native son who wasn’t merely drawn back to Morgantown for the duck hunting?

“All (three QBs) at times look really good. All of them are right around 70-percent completion in team (situations) and they’re taking care of the ball better.” — WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson

Today brings the final practice of fall camp, after which Dawson said the quarterback race “is over with.” It provides one last chance to impress Holgorsen, who by day’s end anticipates “being 100-percent sure of the direction we’re going to go in.” (Though it’s almost 100-percent assured he won’t be publicizing the winner’s name for a while.)

Dispense any notion that having three equitable contenders might lead the Mountaineers to use a hot-hand-of-the-week approach this season. That has never been Holgorsen’s philosophy. Once he makes up his mind, the starting quarterback dominates the reps.

“And,” as Dawson noted, “it usually works out.”

Holgorsen hasn’t faced this type of preseason pick ’em since 2008, when he became the offensive coordinator at Houston and chose between junior Blake Joseph and sophomore Case Keenum—both of whom had split starts the previous year.

“Dana and I were talking all during that camp, and it went back and forth in his mind,” said Dawson, then the coordinator at nearby Stephen F. Austin. “At times he was really torn about who was the starter. Ultimately he chose Case and dumped all the reps into him, and he ended up being Case Keenum.”

That’s the thing about Holgorsen’s selections—they all end up being somebody. And even if there’s not one guy in the WVU quarterbacks room capable of matching Keenum’s NCAA record of 155 career touchdowns, it’s possible more than one is suited to compile numbers on par with what Smith produced.

“We’ve got capable guys,” Dawson stressed. “If we didn’t have capable guys we would have eliminated one already and dumped reps into the other two.

“All of them at times look really good. All of them are right around 70-percent completion in team (situations) and they’re taking care of the ball better.”

Millard has emerged from a similar quarterback competition before, winning the starting job as a junior at Flower Mound High School near Dallas.

“There was a younger kid who a lot of people thought would probably play over me,” he recalled. “It was kind of the same thing as here—we were splitting reps and it was all divided equally before eventually someone came out on top.”

Of course Millard rewarded his Flower Mound coaches with two outstanding seasons, eclipsing the 4,900-yard mark as a senior. That earned him invited walk-on status at WVU, which turned into a scholarship during his first day on campus.

Childress committed to WVU during April of his junior year at The Kincaid School near Houston, pledging just as Millard was going through his first spring practice with the Mountaineers. The 6-foot-5 son of Texas A&M legend Ray Childress was later approached by Texas but essentially shut down recruiters after announcing his plans.

Just as Millard and Childress finished last April’s spring game with their aim on battling one another for the job, then came the late insert Trickett, making the race more crowded and complex once fall camp opened. Though Trickett easily grasped the vaunted “three-day install”—which makes learning Holgorsen’s offense about as laborious as determining how to cook the French fries juuuuuuuuust right—there’s still the matter of mastering tempo, something Trickett didn’t face at Florida State.

Yet to hear Dawson hint at his grading system, it sounds as if Trickett merely has to match, and not necessarily surpass, the other two QBs to win the job.

“There is a curve to him you’ve got to take into consideration,” Dawson said, “because obviously he hasn’t come close to reaching his potential in this offense.”

Of course, in the ultimate decision for who quarterbacks WVU this season, no grading system will trump good old-fashioned instinct.

Said Dawson: “The decision isn’t made on paper—you’ve got to take a lot of intangibles into it. Who’s the most charismatic guy? Who’s the guy this team’s going to follow?”

By tonight, the coaches plan to choose their guy. When they’ll choose to reveal their charismatic new leader, well, that could take longer than the three-day install.

bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • FungoJoe

    Here it is one week past Decision day and still no starting QB named. That would suggest that not one QB has stood out, advanced and outplayed the other 2. Gonna be a long long year at QB.

  • Maggie

    We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in
    our community. Your web site provided us with useful info to work on.
    You have performed an impressive job and our whole community will be thankful to you.

    My webpage: 1285 Muscle Offer Aumont

  • westfair518

    Defense does not win games in this day and age! Just look at the Big 12 Conference history for confirmation.

  • Joe

    Apparently Paul Millard's biggest mistake was having to be in Geno Smith's shadow for two years. His relative obscurity has done him in, as far as fan support goes.

  • dbldsr

    Choose wisely.God Bless!

  • lee arthur

    It doesn't matter who the quarterback will be , they are in over their heads in the conference . 4-8

  • MyBoyB

    As John c said, this is not the same defense. We actually have an experienced D.C. that's had decent success this year. And we can only get better. As long as we have good O-line play the offense can be as good as it was last year if not better.

  • Keith

    It would be nice to have a four year starter at quarterback. Think of the numbers at the end of four years with Holgerson's offense. The question is, "was 2011 the best year for the Ford Childress or will 2016 be the best model?" If you can answer that there are some folks in Las Vegas that need you. Holgerson's seems like the kind of guy that would like to find out and so would I.


    As much as I care about this team; I am still not sold on Dana as head coach. He just appears to be one dimensional in building the program at WVU. You must have a quality and sound defense to win championships !

  • Magic Mike

    This is a easy pick. You pick the local kid.

  • Smokehole

    You people are retarded.....

  • The Sarge

    I would have to say that Holgs and Dawson are keeping their cards close to their vests on this one. If the QBs were privy to the info of who would place where on the depth chart, then one of them would have already transfered. It is a shame that the college game does not have a pre-season like the NFL, then we could watch all of them perform under game stiuations, and then the staff could determine the pecking order.

  • WVU fan 44

    JimJim, if dana can't recruit anyone then how is it that we just signed the best recruiting class in the history of the school? Between you, william, and cutty, it seems like we won't win a single game. I can't wait till the end of the season and all you debbie downers are proved wrong.

  • I'm a Herdman

    Does it really matter?

  • Brian

    Why do i come here to read anything about W.V.U. sports ? All i need to do is get Magic Mike and Big Larrys E-mail adreesses and they can E-mail me they seem to be the two know it all in here. Every one else seems to know nothing .. What a joke those two are .

    • Big Larry


      Insider information is not free. So since your income is limited I suggest you continue to read the sports pages.