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WVU closes spring with Gold-Blue game today

By Dave Hickman, Staff writer

MORGANTOWN — In a perfect world, Dana Holgorsen would have spent the past month and 14 spring practices to date in one of two modes where the most important position in his offense is concerned.

He would have spent that time watching all of his quarterback candidates fight for the job and use the competition to get better, or he would have decided on a clear winner and spent the spring polishing him.

Obviously, though, this is not a perfect world.

And so as West Virginia prepares for its 15th and final workout of the spring — today’s 1 p.m. Gold-Blue game at Mountaineer Field — Holgorsen has been able to do neither. He doesn’t have his full roster of quarterbacks available, so the competition hasn’t been what he would have liked. And obviously he’s in no position to settle on a starter and begin polishing the offense.

Still, the spring has been useful for the quarterbacks. Junior college transfer Skyler Howard has used the time to learn the offense. Senior Paul Millard has provided a stabilizing presence at the position. Walk-on Logan Moore has gotten back into the position after spending time at wide receiver.

And even senior Clint Trickett, last year’s starter who is sitting out the spring after having shoulder surgery, is getting some benefit from just watching.

“I’m always looking out of the corner of my eye and paying attention to Clint Trickett,’’ Holgorsen said. “He’s always behind everybody, taking everything in and signaling. I feel much better about where he’s at.’’

If nothing else, the spring has served as a set-up to fall camp where the quarterbacks are concerned. Howard, in particular, should have a reasonable feel for the offense after getting a lot of work with the starters during the spring. Millard needs little work in that regard, having been in the offense for three-plus years now, and Trickett should be far more comfortable after starting seven games a year ago with very little lead time, having arrived as a transfer from Florida State just a few months before the season began.

In addition to Moore, William Crest also joins the fray this summer. He’s the high school star from Baltimore who joins Howard as the two quarterbacks in this year’s recruiting class.

While Holgorsen hasn’t been able to do all he would have liked with his quarterbacks this spring, he does seem fairly pleased with their progress heading into today’s final scrimmage.

“I don’t even have to look at Paul Millard. I can just shoot him a look or a signal and he knows because he’s done it for four years,’’ Holgorsen said. “Logan Moore is new at it and so is Skyler Howard, which is frustrating. But probably around Sept. 1 I’ll feel better about where Skyler is. It just takes time.’’

With so much of the quarterback situation in limbo this spring because of the absence of Trickett and Crest, improving the offense hasn’t been quite as easy as anyone would have liked. Still, there has been competition almost everywhere. Today is the final chance this fall for West Virginia’s deep group of running backs and receivers to make an impression, as well as those along the offensive line.

And because of that competition and a fair amount of experience at most positions, the offense has probably made strides this spring. Whether it is ready to better compete in the Big 12 remains to be seen.

“That’s the goal,’’ said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “I think as far as offense all-around, we’re more suited. We’re deeper and we’ve got some experienced guys that have played. I think we have 20-something guys who have played in Big 12 games. I don’t think we could have said that the last couple years. With experience, I think we are ready.

“But there is one key factor — the quarterback has to perform well. We’re going to put someone in there that can do it. I’m not saying anything positive or negative about any of those guys. That’s just the fact of the matter.’’

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


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