MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Dana Holgorsen has never put himself in the position of having to juggle quarterbacks during a game, so how he might handle doing so Saturday is probably the most intriguing thing about West Virginia's opener against William & Mary.Remember, this is a team full of intrigue, from how a deep stable of running backs will be used to the introduction of what amounts to a brand new batch of receivers to huge questions about any improvement in a wretched defense and even to a crop of rookie kickers and kick returners.Ah, but those quarterbacks, plural.Who gets the first crack, Paul Millard or Clint Trickett? When does the guy who doesn't start get his shot? Is it the second series? The second quarter? The second half?
Shoot, how about the second play? Anyone for a revival of Paul Brown's old messenger guard system?Of course, between now and Saturday, Holgorsen could formulate an actual plan for the two. Or for one. Who knows? He might even divulge it, although that doesn't seem likely, given his nature.No, chances are he'll just wing it."Depends on my mood, I guess,'' Holgorsen said. "Depends on how the game's going.''
And how one or both are playing, of course. If one starts and sputters, expect a change. If one starts and shines, well, then you've got a dilemma of sorts."It's about opportunities,'' offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "Neither of those guys has proven he doesn't deserve a chance.''What they might prove Saturday is the $64,000 question.What if Trickett (or Millard) starts, completes his first 10 passes, leads three or four straight touchdown drives and looks like Geno Smith circa the Baylor game? What happens to the guy who maybe just lost the coin flip in Holgorsen's head right before kickoff?
The possibilities are endless, which is what makes the whole thing so intriguing.Then again, perhaps neither has to rise up and grab the job. Millard, for one, doesn't particularly like sharing the job, but he's been doing it for a month now and hasn't seen a real down side."I think it'll work just like it worked all throughout camp,'' Millard said. "We split reps the majority of camp and I think offensively we still got better each and every day.''
There's little doubt, though, that Holgorsen would prefer to have one quarterback. It's the way he's always done it. The thing about the coach-quarterback relationship in Holgorsen's offense is that it's a lot closer than most coach-quarterback relationships. There is so much communication between the two, right up until the ball is snapped, that it's hard to make that a threesome without losing something.Not impossible, but harder.So Holgorsen will continue to tinker with the two until something happens to separate them."The guy that we're eventually going to give the most reps to is the guy that takes care of the ball,'' Holgorsen said. "That could be simple quarterback-center exchanges or appropriate handoffs or interceptions and all that. They have to take care of the ball, they have to make good decisions and they have to minimize the negative things that happen.''As for Trickett, he's just taking things as they come. He's only been in the program a few months and he's still trying to master the offense and what Holgorsen wants from him. Millard, who has been through three springs, three August camps and two seasons as Smith's backup, pretty much knows what Holgorsen wants. For him, it's just a matter of delivering.Yes, they're battling each other, but when it gets right down to it, it's not Trickett vs. Millard.
"It's competition,'' Trickett said. "I don't look at it as battling him. It's battling the defenses.''The one that winds up beating those defenses will wind up playing. How they get the opportunities to show what they can do on Saturday should make for great theater.Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.