West Virginia comes to Norman for a Big 12 showdown Saturday, and the Mountaineers’ quarterbacking has lost most of its mystery. Much clarity arrived last Saturday, when Paul Millard took 65 snaps and Clint Trickett just six, in West Virginia’s 24-17 survival of William & Mary.
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said Trickett – a transfer from Florida State – remains an option. “I still think Clint brings something to the table that (Millard) doesn’t, so we will continue to rep Clint,” Holgorsen said Monday.
Here’s what’s interesting. Before this season, I had seen both Millard and Trickett throw touchdown passes, and neither in games they started.
Trickett was E.J. Manuel’s backup at Florida State in 2011 and 2012. In the 2011 OU-Florida State game in Tallahassee, Trickett replaced the injured Manuel in the third quarter, and with 10 minutes left in the game, Trickett threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 13-13. The Sooners won 23-13.
Millard was Geno Smith’s backup last season at West Virginia. In the OSU-WVU game in Stillwater, the Cowboys led 14-0 early. Smith took a third-down sack, and his helmet came off, which by rule meant he had to sit out a play. Millard came in on 4th-and-13 and threw a 37-yard TD pass to Stedman Bailey.
Against William & Mary, Millard was solid – completing 19 of 25 passes for 237 yards and one TD. Those 25 passes are the fewest by a starting quarterback for any Holgorsen team (head coach or assistant) since 2000.
Bob Stoops said Monday he doesn’t know what West Virginia will do at quarterback but said it doesn’t much matter.
“We only have one game” to study, Stoops said. “I think they both looked pretty good. I’m just guessing that Paul’s been in their system, they felt more comfortable with him.
“They both are similar in throwing the ball. I know how Dana runs his offense. He’s not going to change. He has his ballplays that he stays with. They execute ‘em well. They were vanilla in their first game. We won’t see a vanilla scheme in what they’re doing for us.”
Stoops said he recalls Trickett from that night in Tallahassee. “I thought he was really good,” Stoops said. “Came in, made some nice throws, did well when he had his opportunity at Florida State.”
Indeed. Trickett threw three TD passes the next game against Clemson, while Manuel remain injured.
But it sounds like Millard is the man for now. He threw a 69-yard TD pass to Ronald Carswell late in the third quarter to give West Virginia 17-17 tie. And Holgorsen said he liked Millard’s game operation.
“He did a good job of managing the game, and I thought he got us into several really good run checks,” Holgorsen said. “Really happy with how Paul performed, and right now it looks like he’s our guy. But with that said, we’ll continue to rep Clint to get him in position to use him when we need him, because more than likely we’re going to need him at some point.”
Could that point be Norman?
“It all depends on how the game goes,” Holgorsen said. Trickett “has played against Oklahoma before, and he knows what kind of speed that they have, what kind of athletic ability that they have. He’s been in that situation before, so I think he’ll help us from a maturity standpoint and being able to move the ball if we need to.
“We’ve just got to continue to rep him. He doesn’t understand the offense as well as Paul.”