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Health will decide WVU's starting QB vs. Baylor

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It doesn't take a calculator to decipher Dana Holgorsen's analysis of West Virginia's quarterback situation this week. Some rudimentary math skills, however, are helpful.

Clint Trickett and Ford Childress are both on the mend. They combined to start WVU's last three games. Paul Millard seems to be healthy, but he hasn't played since being usurped as the starter after the first two weeks of the season.

Where it goes from here might all come down to percentages.

"I don't know what healthy means,'' Holgorsen said Tuesday. "If they're a hundred percent right now, we would probably go with Clint just because he did a good job of keeping plays alive and had some savvy to him and reacted to the game of football pretty well.

"With that said, if he's half speed and Ford's a hundred percent it would probably make more sense to go with Ford. But if they're both 50 percent it might make more sense to go with Paul.''

In other words, when West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) faces No. 17 Baylor (3-0, 0-0) Saturday night in Waco, Texas, the Mountaineers' starting quarterback might simply be the one who can stand up straight and throw the football.

"That's why you practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,'' Holgorsen said. "In the game of football, if you're injured or healthy or what your percentage is makes a big difference.''

When Holgorsen met with the media Tuesday, he had yet to see either Trickett or Childress in action this week. The team practiced Sunday, was off Monday and then practiced later in the day on Tuesday.

At Tuesday night's practice, Childress sat it out for the most part and Trickett practiced, but was limited, according to offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

"We've got one healthy [Millard] and one partially healthy [Trickett],'' Dawson said. "But they both took reps.''

"They didn't go on Sunday, but we didn't try to let them go on Sunday,'' Holgorsen said of the normally light practice the team holds the day after a game. "We purposely put ice on their parts and let them sit around. They rested up and did a bunch of treatment and [now] we'll see what they can do.''

Holgorsen said that in order to play against Baylor on Saturday - or at least in order to be named the starter - someone is going to have to be able to practice all or most of the week. Were any of the three veterans in the offense it might be a different story. Perhaps they could rest and heal a few days and then jump back into the mix.

That's not the case with these three, however. As the first five games of the season have proven, just mastering the offense is a chore for a redshirt freshman like Childress, a career backup like Millard and a transfer like Trickett.

"With these guys, they need to practice Tuesday, Wednesday [and] Thursday,'' Holgorsen said. "Because we're dealing with three guys that are just so inexperienced, if they can't practice Tuesday and Wednesday, I doubt I'm going to put one of them in there on Thursday to play on Saturday.

"These guys need the reps. And if they don't have the reps throughout the course of the week I'm not going to feel very good about it.''

Provided they get the reps, however, Dawson said the decision still could be delayed until late in the week when the state of Trickett's shoulder is better known.

"The main thing is how he feels on Thursday and Friday,'' Dawson said.

Of course, this is completely foreign to Holgorsen, shuffling quarterbacks in and out of the lineup and dealing with injuries. In his eight previous seasons as an offensive coordinator or a head coach, Holgorsen has never changed quarterbacks during a season for any reason, be it ineffectiveness or injury.

Until Childress was ruled out of last week's game against Oklahoma State because of an injured pectoral muscle, Holgorsen had never had a quarterback miss a game because of injury.

"I told Ford that last week,'' Holgorsen cracked about the 6-foot-5, 234-pounder. " 'You're the first quarterback that's ever missed a game. Big and strong my butt.' He thinks he's all big and strong and tough, but he's the first quarterback that's ever missed a game.''

Now Trickett, who injured his throwing shoulder late in last week's game, could be the second in as many weeks.

  • Holgorsen was less than kind when asked about his special teams return games. Punt returns have been an issue all season and Holgorsen didn't deny that, but WVU has done next to nothing on kickoff returns.
  • "I think our kick returners are garbage,'' he said.

    There will be open competition this week to try to correct that.

  • Counting the opener, Baylor will be the fifth unbeaten team WVU has faced in six games this season. But an end is in sight.
  • "We don't face one next week,'' Holgorsen pointed out.

    The Mountaineers have a bye next week.

    "The week after that, though, we will probably face a 6-0, top-10 Texas Tech team,'' he said, returning to reality.

    Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

     


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