A year of QB struggles in Big 12
MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen has a certain degree of empathy for the coaches in the Big 12 going through quarterback struggles this fall.
It's not something to which he could have related throughout most of his coaching career. Until this season, Holgorsen had never been a head coach or a coordinator with a team that had to deal with multiple quarterbacks. He'd never lost one to injury, even for so much as a single game.
Now, not only is he going through it, but so is almost everyone else in the league, it seems.
"It just kind of went into a cycle,'' Holgorsen said. "Everybody was playing with very experienced quarterbacks last year that remained healthy. And this year it seems like everybody is kind of juggling them, one, to try to find answers and, two, to try to keep them healthy. Texas Tech's dealing with it, we're dealing with it, TCU's dealing with it, Texas has dealt with it, Kansas State has dealt with it.
"Until guys get established and healthy, that's just the reality of college football.''
What other teams are dealing with, however, isn't much of a concern to Holgorsen as he prepares West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) for Saturday's noon home game against No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0).
"We can only worry about ourselves,'' Holgorsen said. "Unfortunately, about the time we settle on somebody, then he gets hurt and we've got to put somebody else in there.
"But that's not an excuse. We've got to get whoever's going to be our quarterback this week, we've got to get him prepared to play and get them to where they're playing at a higher level than what we've gotten out of them.''
So just where does Holgorsen stand on his quarterbacks after a bye week?
"Hopefully we're in better shape this week than we were last week with it,'' Holgorsen said.
It would be hard not to be in better shape.
Clint Trickett, who has started the past two games, took all of the bye week off to rest his sore throwing shoulder, injured first in a win over Oklahoma State and then battered even more during a pummeling at Baylor.
Ford Childress, the starter for the two games before that, was able to take more practice reps than he has since injuring a pectoral muscle against Maryland.
Where that leaves the two, however, remains a mystery. And it's one that's not likely to be solved until today at the earliest and perhaps later.
"They say that they feel better,'' Holgorsen said. "But feeling better and going out there and being able to throw 250 balls and run an offense is a different story.''
As the Mountaineers prepare for Texas Tech, the practice schedule is juggled just a bit. Normally the team practices lightly on Sunday, not at all on Monday and then begins game prep on Tuesday. This week, classes are not in session Monday and today, so both are full workdays.
And so the plan was to see on Monday how both Trickett and Childress react to practice and "see how their limbs handled a full day,'' Holgorsen said.
But the real test wasn't in Monday's practice, but in how they feel today.
"We've got to get one of them to where he can take a bunch of reps in practice to get us into the game on Saturday,'' Holgorsen said. "It's not just about being able to play on Saturday. It's about all the prep work that goes into it [during] the week.''
Almost lost in the shuffle, of course, is WVU's third quarterback. Paul Millard started the first two games of the season. He didn't play at all the two games Childress started, then relieved Trickett only for a couple of plays against Oklahoma State and then for a few early plays and all of the fourth quarter at Baylor.
But exactly where Millard stands in the big picture seems almost mysterious. When Holgorsen needs someone dependable to run his offense, Millard is more often than not the choice. But at least for the time being, Holgorsen seems committed to giving Trickett and Childress the opportunities to win the job, perhaps because he feels they have more up side or are better equipped to make plays.
"I know what I'm getting with Paul. Paul's going to practice great. He's going to go out there and run the offense,'' Holgorsen said, pointing out that Millard has been doing this for three years in practice. "But with that said, I feel like these other two guys need to continue to rep to see what they bring to the table. And the only way I can figure that out is if they have a good week of practice and then put them into a game.
"I don't think we've seen the last of Paul Millard. But because the inexperience and the lack of reps when it comes to Clint and Ford, I think they're going to get better and better.''
West Virginia's game at Kansas State on Oct. 26 will kickoff at 3:45 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1