WVU quarterback Clint Trickett has taken a lot of pounding over the course of the season, like here against TCU's Jonathan Anderson.
TCU linebacker Jonathan Anderson (41) sacks West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett (9) during the first half of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The more things change, the more they stay the same for West Virginia's football team.At least that's true where the quarterback position is concerned.Eleven weeks into the season, the Mountaineers are right back where they've been so many times this season - heading into a game week without a clear starter at quarterback.And the formula for making a decision remains the same.
"It's all based on practice,'' Dana Holgorsen said Monday.Well, practice and the health of Clint Trickett, that is.Trickett, who has started WVU's last six games, left Saturday's 47-40 overtime loss to Texas late in the first quarter. He had been battered by the Longhorns' pass rush for two straight series and on the first play of the next possession dropped the ball even before he was buried and took a hit to the head.By Sunday, when the Mountaineers met for a light practice and meetings, Trickett seemed fine."He came in, was alert, he gave us the thumbs up and was in the meetings,'' Holgorsen said.That doesn't mean he'll be able to play, though, when West Virginia (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) goes to Kansas (2-7, 0-6) for a noon game on Saturday."There's a little bit of a progression that they have to do any time a head is involved,'' Holgorsen said. "They've got to do some non-contact stuff prior to releasing him, so I would anticipate him being a non-contact guy. But at this point of the season everybody's a non-contact guy on Tuesday.''But even if Trickett is eventually cleared, there still will be issues in choosing a starter for Saturday. Part of it depends on how much he is able to practice and, if he does practice, how both he and backup Paul Millard perform during those workouts.Redshirt freshman Ford Childress, out since the fourth game of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, probably isn't ready to rejoin the competition.On the plus side, this deep into the season all of West Virginia's quarterbacks seem to at least have a full grasp of how to run the offense."We've played three different guys, they've all taken snaps, they've all won games and they all understand what we're trying to do on offense,'' Holgorsen said. "At this point in the season, it comes down to a health thing. Whichever guy's healthy, whichever guy can get out there and play at a high level because of his health I think gives you the best chance to win.''
Millard stepped in for Trickett against Texas with widely mixed results. He started out shaky and was 0 of 5 passing on his first three possessions, but then scoring drives of 51, 76, 91, 52 and 75 yards. But he also lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions."I was really happy with how Paul played,'' Holgorsen said. "His ball security was obviously terrible and we need to work on that. But as far as running the offense and giving us a chance to win, I thought he performed pretty good.''Quarterback isn't the only position where West Virginia is dealing with injuries, of course. The defense has been particularly hard hit."The injuries are starting to mount,'' Holgorsen said. "But they are for everybody. You just have to find out who's available on Tuesday and practice them, and then who's available on Wednesday and practice them. And then you go with the guy that gives you the best chance to be successful."It's just part of the game. You can't use it as an excuse not to be successful.''As for the quarterback, it's no different than any other position.
"We have to put somebody there,'' Holgorsen said. "We'll see how those guys do at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and then we'll go from there.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.