And that's pretty much all he was asked to do. He handed off, usually to Houston transfer Charles Sims, who carried 23 times for 120 yards and a touchdown. He threw deep really only twice, hitting junior college transfer Ronald Carswell on a wide-open 69-yard touchdown in the third quarter that tied the score at 17.
"I took care of the ball for the most part except for that one fumble,'' Millard said. "But I've got to get better in everything.''
West Virginia's reconfigured and supposedly re-energized defense, meanwhile, actually played pretty well. After West Virginia took a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game, the Tribe scored 17 straight points to end the half and take a 17-7 lead, but those scores all came with asterisks.
The two touchdowns were set up by spectacular catches by NFL-caliber wide receiver Tre McBride. The field goal was a direct result of Millard's fumble.
"They're going to give up plays,'' Holgorsen said. "What happened today with McBride making plays, that's going to happen. Next week when we play [Oklahoma], they're going to have some guys that can make some plays. We have to be able to overcome that and just keep playing. And I think we did a really good job of that today.''
Indeed, McBride's catches - 40- and 28-yarders inside the WVU 5-yard line - set up touchdowns, but that was it. After the field goal near the end of the half, the Mountaineers pitched a shutout.
"You could tell the second half they were much more comfortable,'' defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said.
And that allowed West Virginia's suddenly methodical offense to take control and eventually win.
The Mountaineers' first points of the second half came at the end of a 15-play, 70-yard drive that took more than six minutes and included a fourth-and-1 conversion on a run by Dreamius Smith. But the march sputtered near the goal line and WVU had to settle for a field goal from redshirt freshman Josh Lambert. That closed the gap to 17-10.
West Virginia tied the score in a much flashier manner. On its next possession, Millard, operating out of a three-back backfield, found a wide-open Carswell on a post route in the middle of the field. Carswell ran past the cornerback, and because the Tribe was cheating up against what looked like a run formation there was no safety help. He finished off the 69-yard touchdown by trotting into the end zone and the score was tied at 17 with 3:15 to play in the third.
"All I had to do was make sure I didn't overthrow the guy,'' Millard said.
Then finally in the fourth quarter West Virginia put all three phases together. O'Toole got off a 60-yard punt from near his own goal line and Cook tackled returner Sean Ballard for a 2-yard loss. The defense forced a three-and-out and a punt from the William & Mary 19 that reached only to midfield. Then Smallwood's run capped an eight-play drive, only one of which was a pass.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.