The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 3, 2013

Nobody waving white flag in WVU quarterback battle

From the day Clint Trickett’s transfer from Florida State to West Virginia became official, it’s been assumed by many that the son of former Mountaineer offensive line coach Rick Trickett will be the quarterback taking the first snap when the Mountaineers open up the 2013 season against William & Mary on Aug. 31 in Morgantown.

If Trickett wasn’t going to try to fill the huge shoes left vacant when WVU’s all-time leading passer, Geno Smith, left the hills of Morgantown for the bright lights of New York and the Jets, many hypothesized, then why would third-year head coach Dana Holgorsen have brought him into the fold?

Holgorsen, though, insists he hasn’t promised Trickett anything. Instead, he believes simply that more competition is better, and it appears as though the candidates are buying into the notion that that job is still up for grabs.

After Friday’s second day of practice, Paul Millard, the only one of the three quarterbacks to actually take a snap in a game for WVU, said he’s out to win the position.

“I want to step up and be the starting quarterback for the Mountaineers this year,” said the 6-foot-2 junior from Flower Mound, Texas, who has seen action in 11 career games, completing 16 of 34 passes for 211 yards. He’s tossed three touchdowns and three interceptions. “That is the mindset you have to have going into camp, that you are that guy. That is definitely my mindset.”

Redshirt-freshman Ford Childress, a 6-foot-5 Houston, Texas, native, is taking a similar approach.

“We are all just trying to get better and are pushing each other,” he said. “Once we get our pads on, we will really get to see the difference.

“I feel a ton better with the offense. I actually know what is going on, what the defense is doing and what I need to call and check out of everything.”

While the competition has certainly helped to create some intensity, Millard, who battled Childress for the spot throughout spring drills, before Trickett even joined the team, said it hasn’t created any animosity.

“At the end of the day, we are all teammates, and somebody is going to step up to lead this team,” he said. “For me, personally, I am just going out there every day and trying to get better. Obviously, we all have the same goal in mind — to be the starting quarterback of this team. There is no reason to really stress about it, because that is not going to help us in the situation.”

In fact, Childress said he’s trying to learn from the new guy.

“(Trickett) has a lot of experience and knows what he is doing,” said the former ESPNU Top 150 recruit. “He has played big games and has been through three years of college football. So he’s a good guy to be around. I will see what tricks he can teach.”

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WVU play-by-play voice Tony Caridi also said Friday that the race is too close to call.

“Everything they do in practice — every snap they take and every ball they throw — will play into the decision,” he said. “You can’t rule anybody out.”

The veteran announcer, who has seen a number of quarterback battles during his career, did admit that experience probably gives Trickett the upper hand.

The 6-foot-2 transfer played in 12 games in two seasons in Tallahassee, Fla., completing 66 of 106 passes for 947 yards and seven touchdowns, while tossing just four interceptions. He started on the road at Clemson in 2011, throwing for 336 yards and three touchdowns in Death Valley, and he saw significant action against Oklahoma one week earlier, completing 7 of 15 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

WVU will play at Oklahoma the second week of the season on Sept. 7.

“He’s already played against Oklahoma and already played in big road games,” said Caridi. “So what are you going to do? Are you going to start somebody who’s been there and performed well, or start somebody who hasn’t?

“I think you have to give Clint the lean.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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