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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  • Fojjas

    Skyler will get it done give the kid some time. He's work ethic proves why he's there. Just give it time to unfold.

  • WSC

    One thing I noticed is Holgerson and the coaching staff wearing Gold and Blue! This is a victory for Mountaineer fans! Buy in or get out, that is how I see it! This is our land grant university, win or lose it is ours! I think these statewide practices are a good thing! We will see how things go this year and guess what, we already have a head coach waiting! I really hope it doesn't come to that ! Excited for this season!

  • Dallas

    Mr. Trickett will not play good this year. If he contiune to play then WVU turn LOSER!! Let Howard or Crest to play. Trickett Impreachment!!!

  • Da Man

  • Joey Z

    No real QB, a bad O-line, Tony Gibson now coaching one of the worst defenses n the country.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    You just a hater if you don't pick at least 9-3.

  • Thomas

    Be nice if we could of brought Jim Tressel here.

  • Curtiebone

    Did the Mad Hatter say 5-7? Please look on the schedule and tell me where you see five wins. I can't find 3. I feel bad for the ticket scalpers...

  • Allen

    I am more worried about an offensive line than the QB position. Get a good or great o-line and the QB can be average and still win. Especially with the talent in the backfield.

  • t.r

    I just hope they don't start Millard

  • clair

    I hope skylar comes along if not not good.

  • Mister Man

    Hang in there, Skylar. Don't get down on yourself. Work hard. You'll do just fine.

    • Mister Man


  • 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.)