MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - If Ford Childress plays any quarterback at all today in West Virginia's season opener against William & Mary, it's likely to be due to one of two extreme circumstances.
Either the Mountaineers and their two primary quarterbacks, Clint Trickett and Paul Millard, have done very, very well or very, very poorly.
Childress was the odd man out in WVU's three-man quarterback battle this month. It was roughly a week before today's opener that head coach Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson settled on juniors Trickett and Millard as the guys they would focus on. Childress, a redshirt freshman, was relegated more or less to bystander status.
"You just can't rep three quarterbacks,'' Dawson said. "Somebody had to go.''
Just how far Childress has gone, however, remains to be seen. Both Holgorsen and Dawson insist that there isn't much difference between the three and that the only reason one of them had to be tossed from the mix is that it would have been impossible to continue to evaluate all three while preparing for a game. Childress drew the short straw, they maintain, only because he's the only one of the three without any experience.
But to relegate Childress to outsider status from here on out would be a mistake. Not only might he be worked back into the mix, he might have to be worked back into it. Who knows?
"How many times have we seen it happen?'' Dawson said. "Look around and guys are always having to come from nowhere.''
For Childress, the chance could come at any time. Injuries happen. West Virginia's offense could sputter under Trickett and Millard. By next season the roster might change. Who envisioned a running back corps this season that doesn't include Dustin Garrison among the top three backs and Andrew Buie not even on the team?
The future is hard to predict. Holgorsen went through just a quick look at quarterbacks that have played for him or now play against him.
"Ford has four years of eligibility,'' Holgorsen said. "If you look at a lot of the guys in the past that have been successful, Brandon Weeden didn't even have a freshman year. Graham Harrell sat his whole redshirt freshman year. Geno [Smith] got thrusted in what, game eight or nine of his freshman year? Clint Chelf was the third-team quarterback at Oklahoma State last year and ended up starting what, seven or eight games?
"You better keep your head up, you better study hard, you better work hard because you never know when your number's going to get called. And when it does you better get in there and make the most of it. That's what his mentality is now and that's what I expect it to be until his number's called. It could be this year, could be next year, could be the next year. You don't know.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.