There's that rationalization thing again. Millard can't afford to allow his sometimes-embarrassing outings last fall define who he is as a quarterback. He can't afford to feel anything but complete confidence. And if his shaky performances in his brief auditions as a freshman eroded anyone's confidence in him, they aren't showing it.
"Paul's comfortable and he's out there to compete. He's a guy who was mature from the moment I met him, and that's very rare for a freshman,'' said Smith, who returns for his final season this fall. "He's been pushing me and pushing the second-team offense. Those guys have been getting better and so has Paul.
"I think he's fit to be a starter. We don't discuss anything about him being a backup. Paul understands that whatever his role is, he's going to embrace it. But at the same time, now is the time to compete. He kicks my butt many times. I'm going after him and he's going after me as well.''
Millard came in a year ago as the only other quarterback on the roster and was force-fed the offense and pushed hard to be ready to play. The coaching staff had no other choice.
This year, another freshman is working in spring drills. Ford Childress, though, doesn't have the same pressure to perform as did Millard. A year from now, those two should be fighting during spring drills for the starting job.
Millard, though, wants to have a leg up by that point.
"I've always been an extremely competitive guy,'' Millard said. "Even in high school there were times when I had to wait to play and I just hated it. But I think that's also what it takes to play at an extremely high level. It's not fun waiting your turn, but in the meantime you just have to soak up everything you can. Hopefully it will come soon enough.
"[Smith] has another year to be the man. I'm just trying to put myself in position that when he leaves - and this season if anything happens to him - that I'm ready to go and ready to play at a really high level.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.