By Cam Huffman
Saturday was supposed to be the day. West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen promised earlier in the week that he would settle on a quarterback by the end of Saturday’s practice, and Mountaineer fans counted down the minutes to find out who would be replacing Geno Smith, the school’s all-time passing leader.
There was just one problem. Although the three candidates for the job — redshirt-freshman Ford Childress, junior Paul Millard and Florida State transfer Clint Trickett — were on the practice field with their teammates Saturday morning, the media wasn’t allowed to attend. With no interview availability for media types to ask questions of coaches or players, there was no way to find an answer as to who would be the first-team signal caller for the Mountaineers.
There are plenty of rumors out there. Check Twitter, Facebook or a West Virginia football message board, and you’re sure to find out that, a) somebody’s sister’s boyfriend is a manager that said Trickett will be the starter, but Holgorsen’s keeping it a secret; b) a bird that has a nest inside Milan Puskar Stadium left a note on a fan’s front door that said Paul Millard will start against William & Mary, but WVU is going to surprise Oklahoma with Trickett in game No. 2; c) Holgorsen was overheard in a Morgantown restaurant saying that Childress was the guy, but he wants to make the other two believe they’re still involved so they’ll continue to work hard in practice.
I’m not buying any of it. I mean, birds have been known to spread lies, anyway.
I’ve had several people try to give me their “inside information,” as well, but I’m going to wait until either Holgorsen stands in front of the media and says “Trickett is our guy” or until Childress runs out on the field in the opener against the Tribe before I’m convinced.
I do have my theory based upon what I’ve seen, heard and read, and that is that Trickett should get the nod for the 2013 season.
What do I base that on? Let’s start with the other two.
Childress, from all reports, is a very talented quarterback. He has what might be the most accurate arm of the three, and from the limited occasions I’ve had to watch him in person, he seems to handle himself well and has a good relationship with his teammates.
The problem? He’s a redshirt-freshman. He spent last year on the sidelines holding a clipboard and making signals. While that experience was valuable in terms of his understanding of the offense, it did little to prepare him for being chased by an Oklahoma linebacker in front of a sea of red in Norman. Childress could end up being the best quarterback out of all three before all is said and done, but he’s still a rookie. At this point, I don’t think throwing him to the wolves — or the Sooners in week 2 — gives the Mountaineers their best chance to win.
What about Millard? The junior knows the system, and he’s the only one of the three to have ever thrown a pass in a game wearing a WVU uniform. The Flower Mound, Texas, native has the ability to make some big plays, and he learned from one of the best as Smith’s backup.
But he’s also shown the ability to make plays for the other team.
Millard isn’t afraid of anything, which is sometimes a good quality for a quarterback. In this case, though, Millard’s fearlessness often leads to mistakes. The band is going to play if Millard has the ball in his hands, but you never know which band that will be. In a league like the Big 12, where offenses can score in a hurry, WVU can’t afford to give its opponent extra opportunities.
That leaves Trickett. He doesn’t have the best arm, but he has a good arm. He’s not the most mobile, but he’s not a statue either. What he does have is the most experience. He started, and played well, for FSU two years ago on the road at Clemson. He knows what it’s like to have thousands of fans cheering for him and thousands of fans cheering against him.
Trickett is also a coach’s son — his dad, Rick Trickett, is a former WVU offensive line coach who now serves the same role at FSU — who understands the game well. He’s not going to make many mistakes, and he understands game management and how to be a leader.
Want a guy to put a team on his shoulders and lead it to a victory? Trickett’s probably not your man. But in Holgorsen’s offense, that’s not necessarily the quarterback’s role. His job is to get the ball into the playmakers’ hands and keep it out of the hands of the playmakers on the defense on the other side. He doesn’t have to win by himself. He just has to avoid the mistakes that can give games away.
Trickett, from all I’ve seen and heard, is more than capable of executing those assignments, and that’s why I think he should be — and likely will be — named the starter for the Mountaineers.
Now, does anybody know how to speak dog? I hear the Holgorsen canine might be holding a secret.