West Virginia University football fans are anxiously awaiting the upcoming football season and the unveiling of new head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense. With a solid cast of offensive skill players returning, including junior quarterback Geno Smith, and Holgorsen’s reputation as an offensive genius in college football over the last five years, the excitement would seem legit.
The expectations Holgorsen brings to WVU have been discussed over and over in this space. So have been Smith’s exploits, including the fact that he put up good numbers in a stagnate offense a year ago. The mind really wanders thinking what Smith may be able to do in an offensive system designed to put up huge offensive numbers.
We will be able to get a glimpse of that offense in about a month when the Mountaineers open their season in an unprecedented Sunday home game against Marshall on September 4. What we will also be watching is a team with two quarterbacks.
There has also been discussion here about how the battle to be Smith’s backup was between two true freshmen that enrolled in January so they could compete in spring ball. How West Virginia was left with just one quarterback on its roster after last year is a good question. Sure, had highly recruited Barry Brunetti stayed on board the quarterback position would be very strong, but still thin. Now it is thin and inexperienced.
Texan Paul Millard won the number two spot during spring drills beating out fellow freshman Brian Athey. On Monday we may have our first clue at just how far Millard was ahead of Athey as the latter announced that he is leaving the program and transferring to Illinois State. Hard to say for sure, but this could be a good news/bad news development. Bad news that West Virginia is down to two quarterbacks, but good in the sense that Millard may be so talented that Athey simply saw no way to get ahead of him.
Another factor could be the verbal commitment from another Texas quarterback. Ford Childress will be a senior this fall in Houston and has been a WVU verbal for several months. Childress, the son of former Oiler (a teammate of Oliver Luck) All Pro defensive tackle Ray Childress, was an under the radar prospect a few months ago, but has become a hot topic in recruiting circles since he committed to WVU. Keep an eye on this one folks, because there will be schools still pursuing him.
For now the Mountaineers are scary thin at quarterback. While Smith is poised to have a great year, an injury could change everything. No matter how good Millard may become, it is unreasonable to expect him to come in as a true freshman and have command of the offense. In that regard, Smith has only had a few months with the new system, so he may have a learning curve as well.
As fall camp begins all eyes will be on the quarterback position to see what Holgorsen does to find a number three quarterback. Receivers Coley White and Brad Starks have worked out at the position during their careers at West Virginia, but not in an offense like this one.