MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Skyler Howard kept overthrowing the passing net situated to his right, then repeatedly pegged it as he rolled out left.

During the early team period, Howard steered the offense downfield, but in the second scrimmage session he threw an interception, fumbled a snap and was generally off-target.

For the second straight Saturday, the junior college transfer—so eager to make plays in his new surroundings—struggled to acclimate because of his new surroundings.

West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, the first major-college coach to dangle a scholarship in Howard’s direction last fall, said difficult days are part of the process.

“Skyler was not happy with his performance and I understand that, but he’s also got to understand that this is his ninth practice in this system,” Dawson said. “The kids are more frustrated than the coaches are, because we’ve been through the learning curve so much we understand there are going to be peaks and valleys.”

The media isn’t allowed to speak with Howard this spring—Dana Holgorsen’s guideline for restricting access to newcomers—but the quarterback spoke with the crew at MetroNews “Sportsline” upon signing with WVU in December and sounded ready to compete for immediate playing time.

That will be difficult with senior Clint Trickett returning to action this summer. In the meantime, Dawson said Howard merely needs to grow comfortable with the system.

“You’re never going to be able to play to your ability until you can play with clear mind and clear feet,” Dawson said. “Right now it’s foggy. It’s hard to drive in the fog. We’ve got clean that fog up.”

Howard’s main competition—during the spring, at least—is senior Paul Millard, who looked especially sharp Saturday. In six drives, he led the offense to four touchdowns and two field goals.

Millard was the opening-day starter last season, a job he held for just two weeks before WVU’s quarterback carousel began. Dawson saw plenty of positives Saturday and hinted that Millard could regain his starting status “if he’ll play within himself like that.”

“Every quarterback has things they do good and things they do bad,” Dawson said. “It’s your job as a quarterback to lean toward and emphasize the stuff you do good. There’s a lot of things Paul does good, but where he gets in trouble is when he starts to try to do things he can’t do.”

While Howard possesses superb scrambling ability, Millard is a pocket passer with limited mobility who must make crisp decisions and unload the ball quickly.

“Paul’s got to understand he’s not the most mobile guy in the world, so he’s got to get rid of the ball,” Dawson said. “The one time he took a sack, he was indecisive. He held onto the ball and we didn’t have a place to go with it.”

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Comments

  • don

    I agree with several of the other writers. Please pick a quarterback and go with him. When you go from quarter to quarter with different guys under center there is no way you're going to consistently win. Personally I just don't think Trickett has the right stuff to play big time football. Too slow, too fragile, and weak arm. Nice guy but just not right for big 12 ball. Holgorson is very much like Huggins in that all the players are afraid to really stretch theirselve for fear of being immediately pulled out if they make a mistake

    • Mike

      Thans coach,you know so much more football then the entire WVU staff. Maybe you should call OL and tell him you can replace him and the whole football coaching staff.

  • Phil Monell

    Skylar and the others are upset because they care about the success of the team this year and beyond. He needs to know that one day soon that he will wake up and everything will be at a slower pace for him, and he will understand what needs to be done..... Take care Skylar.... We are all pulling for you and the rest of the team.....

    • mad hatter

      skylar might figure it out, but trickett never did figure out what was going on.

  • Get Real

    Howard is just a body for practice, guys. Without QBs to drill and scrimmage the WRS can't get their work in. It's not as if we had anyone better to give a scholarship or we would have done it. He helps us out in practice this year when we are shorthanded and then he can transfer down to a level where he might get a chance to play. That's a win for us unless we carry him as a scrub for 3 years which isn't likely.

    Some might say we are using him if we convinced him that he had a chance to actually play for us, but unless he's in la la land mentally, he had to know that when he had to walk on at Stephen Austin and still couldn't get a single offer from another major conference school after a year in junior college that he had no real shot of starting for us.

    Skyler probably thinks that since Holgorsen has (maybe soon to be had but for now he's still given credit) a good rep for developing QBs, a year of practice with us will make him better at a smaller school when he ends up at one than if he just went straight to one out of the junior leagues.

    • Gary K.

      And you are qualified coach that knows all the ins and outs of a college.

    • ole sasquatch

      Not buying that. We will see. I understand that he was with the first string the other day. I saw the film of his talents, as others. I will trust what I saw as being real.
      The coaches keep telling you they need someone who can extend the play. You know as well as I do, our offensive line will not give anyone back there a whole lot of time. That is when Skyler can manage chaos and drive us down the field.

      • Mohigan #22

        I can buy it now that he said that. I hadn't thought of that angle but it makes sense because I was literally shocked at how bad he looked. As I said he isn't even close to as good as Logan and Logan is a walk-on who knew all along what his role would be.

        Yeah, you do just need a person who can throw the ball in practice so the real QBs don't wear out their arms and since Trickett is hurt and Crest won't be here to summer bringing in a kid just to be a camp QB makes a lot more sense than the other alternative which is that Holgorsen and Dawson are so bad at judging talent they actually think he can compete at this level.

        I mean the kid is a second tier WV conference (mountain East) QB at best. We are doomed if he has to play in games. No agenda just telling you he is not close to being a player at this level.

        • HessaDuffus

          I know someone who has an agenda. Where is Grandpa talking about the wildcard in the QB drama? What about ol Gregory? Can he help us at QB? I know the answer but just wondering if Grandpa or others would like to share their thoughts.

  • Holgie

    Aaron, All I could say is that I wish I had you for a boss. Your expectations are low and you are willing to pay top dollar for people who on a consistent basis produce less than mediocrity.

    • Aaron

      How so?

      • mad hatter

        like you , strickly rhetorically speaking about the onus that is bewildering.

    • mad hatter

      no truer words were every spoken, or , ahhh, written... if we finish 5-7 , some people will accept that, and say wait until next yr... sad.

    • hailey

      Hogie, are you saying you are a slacker? Personally I am glad my boss is a real driver, being a successful female secruites broker is tough and I an thankful my boss pushes me to be the best I can.

      • Holgie

        Hailey, Read my statement. I'm not saying I'm a "slacker". I'm saying that some people here accept the fact that this team has been below average and some on here accept it and are willing to wait forever to turn it around and still pay outrageous salaries to coaches who are producing poor results.

        • yep

          Holgie, Since you won't accept what's going on w/WVU fball and are not willing to wait, what is your plan? What are you personally going to do to improve our fball team? (and complaining is not an action plan.)

  • JJ

    Shocking that a kid that no other D1 school wanted is struggling.

    It is going to be a looong season. Only hope is that this season will bring the Holgorsen Error to an end.

  • ole sasquatch

    Don't have the advantage of seeing any spring practices and I know that Millard is at least an adequate QB if he has a good offensive line.
    It would be a mistake to think we are going to get a decent offensive line - maybe the offensive line coach's fault but it has been sporadic and generally poor during the last couple of years. That is why I am hoping Skylar Howard becomes efficient in the system and I for one will give him the time. If the offensive line don't perform he will still give us hope which we lost last year.

  • Punt

    If Trickett comes back,stays healthy and improves a reasonable amount , the defense improves and we get a lot of breaks we might make it to 6-6.

    If any one of those things don't happen it's another losing season. If we end up playing Millard or Howard and the defense is like it has been the last two years and we are looking at 2-10.

    Looking hard for a silver lining, we probably won't have to suffer under Holgorsen much longer. Problem is we have Ollie deciding the replacement. Worse aint possible, but just as bad might be.

  • Head in the clouds

    Oh ya baby Skyler is a hot talent. HOT! He has to be because he is on our team and it's just not possible for any one on our team not to be awesome. Our record alone proves that.

    Just because he looks terrible in practice and lacks size, skill and ability isn't any reason to diss the boy. Hey we had to out recruit Northern Colorado and New Mexico St. to land him. Obviously powerhouses like that don't take chances on undersized, weak armed players who have no chance of competing at the highest levels.

  • Holgie

    Oh how I long for the day when we are once again relevant in our 2 major sports programs.
    Seems like it was a hundred years ago when we were selling out the home and road games in footballl and our basketball team had a class act for a coach.
    Oh well, maybe some day....

    • Aaron

      It had to be 100 years ago as WVU has always had more than there share of fair weather fans. I've been to Mountaineer field dozens of times and I can recall 3 or 4 true sellouts in which the stadium was standing room only.

      I remember the 93 season when WVU was undefeated and in the discussion for the national championship. Despite the success, the only 2 sellouts were the Pitt and Miami games. With that defense, it was a shame that they couldn't sell out 5 of their 7 home games.

      When the going is good, we show up but when it's average or down, we abandon this team like rats on a sinking ship.

      • mad hatter

        who wants to watch a team that stinks. like last yr, and the yr before.

        • Aaron

          Thank you for making my point.

          • Aaron

            keep studying grasshopporson.

          • mad hatter

            addition thru substraction

  • Chris

    I can tell you as talented as Crest is he will struggle the same way Howard is. Skylar is trying to do to much to soon his head is spinning as it should be at this time the kid is talented, him and Crest are going to be good and were lucky to have both.

  • Cameron

    If this was fall camp I would again be worried. I think its safe to say that a new qb in a new system involved in his first few weeks of practice would not go perfect. I'm sure that after spring drills and a full scrimmage and all summer to work with receivers to get his timing down Skyler will be further along when fall camp opens. Lets wait till then before we decide if Howard will be the man. I'm sure that what the coaching staff will do. But I'm also one of the ones who thinks Paul might be the best of all if he plays within the system. He has looked the best so far and I can't help but think all Paul needs is that killer instinct to be successful. Maybe being a senior will bring that out in him. Remember Paul almost beat Oklahoma on the road and played good enough to beat Texas.

    One thing is for sure the QB and O line hold the key to success in Morgantown this year if we can't find a QB and a line to protect him its gonna be another long season.

  • razz

    Start W. Crest ASAP, as soon as he gets here!! The scouting clips make all our current guys look bad.

  • Mohigan #22

    This is not just taking up for the local favorite. Logan Moore is way better than Skyler Howard. I saw the practice and Logan is about the same size, faster, has a stronger arm and is more accurate than Howard. They are similar types of players but Logan is simply a better athlete with better skills. It's not even very close. The only area where you could even make a case that Howard is in the same league with Logan is scrambling away from pressure, but that's negated because Howard can't hit the broad side of a barn throwing on the run and Logan is a better ball carrier by far if you just wanted your QB to run the ball.

    Howard's problems are not from unfamiliarity, that's a cop out. You don't need time in a system to know you have to throw the ball where a receiver has a chance to catch it and being new to the system does not make you have a weak arm. The mistakes Howard makes just add to the advantage Logan has. I'm not sitting here telling you that Logan is a Big 12 caliber QB. He's not. I'm just saying Fairmont State would struggle with a guy as limited as Howard and did pretty good with Moore. Desperate is the only reason I can see for giving Howard a scholarship and if he ever takes a snap for us in a game that is still up for grabs we are $@#$ed I'll take my chnces with Trickett or Millard and yes i do know what I am saying when i say that. Maybe Crest will be a super fast learner but if all that fails then let Logan give it a shot if we got no other choice.

    • CornHole

      I haven't seen the kid on practice but Howard has some serious skills. You can judge one practice. If you go and watch film on Howard he is very impressive. Granted the talent level he's facing was not the same but the kid can throw and run. Gotta give him some time to settle in.

    • Mike

      You hope Crest is a fast learner? Why would he need to be you stated unfamiliarity is a cop out. If you expect Howard to just show up and perform then why not Crest? The truth of the matter is all players offense or defense require an adjustment period when learning a new scheme. I would love to see you or anyone else spewing that garbage do better. If you could you would. Quit talking out your ass and go root for the Herd. Then again they don't want your useless negative feedback either.

      • Mohigan #22

        I said it's a cop out to explain why Howard can't and won't do well. Howars is bad because he's not close having Big 12 talent. HE has DII talent at best.

        I have not seen Crest play but he is said to have good size, a good arm and plenty of athletic ability, all tings Howard lacks and have nothing to do with learning a system. Crest is aid to be just raw because he has played in a weak league for a team with a basic offense. Yes, if Crest learns the system, he might be good, if he has the tools advertised.

        Howard won't. He could be the all-time whiz at knowing the system and he wouldn't be good because he is not close to the type of athlete we need at this level.

  • Aaron

    I'm really not as concerned with the QB situation as most fans are. I understand that Clint Trickett played hurt for most of the year and Paul Mallard was thrust into a situation with too much to overcome on offense.

    I am not of a mind that the two newcomers are going to surplant the elder statesmen on the depth chart. I will not be surprised in the least to see Trickett or Mallard under center on August 30th when WVU travels to the Georgia Dome.

    I also will not be surprised if William Crest begins the 2015 season in contention for a starting position as a red shirt freshman.

    • mad hatter

      none of the newcomers will surplant Millard, because he isn't on the team, but Millard is... at least ,spell the guys name right.
      and most so called fans who believe in mediocrity, don't care who the qb is either.without a doubt, you qualify as capt. obvious

      • Aaron

        Why?

    • BooneCoEER

      I to am looking forward to William Crest to arrive and get started competing for the QB spot, but with that said if there isn't an overwhelming distance between him and the other QBs I don't think you make his first collegiate start the Alabama Crimson Tide. If he hasn't completely established himself the front runner then wait a couple of games. That could ruin him if things get out of hand in Atlanta. I do believe if we're going to compete this year we have to have a more mobile QB to help a unproven O-line.

      • mad hatter

        i agree, the best freshman in the nation, would have a hard time playing his first college game against alabama, away from home, or even at home for that matter.
        i wish we had the talent to red shirt crest,and give him time to settle in and get his feet on the ground....

        • Aaron

          We don't? Who is we?

  • Dennis

    It appears that the quarterback position will still have significant hurdles to overcome this season. This team cannot afford another year with a quarterback carousel. Let us hope that somebody steps up and holds this position for the entire year.