The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 20, 2013

Much to look for in ’13 Gold-Blue game

MORGANTOWN — When West Virginia University takes the field at Milan Puskar Stadium 2 p.m. today for its annual spring game, it will be about almost too many things to imagine:

a. The offensive line is being rebuilt.

b. The receiving corps is virtually starting over.

c. A number of early-arriving freshmen and junior college additions, the most notable of which may be running back Dreamius Smith, will be on display for the first time.

d. New defensive coordinator Keith Patterson will put his new group on the field.

e. New kickers will be looked at.

All that, and new uniforms on display before the game, too, along with former linebacker Grant Wiley’s debut of his new rally song “Mountaineer Nation” by G.n’8.

Yet that isn’t what makes this a big deal.

This is where you get your first look at the quarterbacks who are fighting to replace the most prolific passing quarterback in WVU history, Geno Smith.

And, like it or not, this offense that coach Dana Holgorsen runs is about the quarterback.

Paul Millard had some chances last year, while redshirt freshman Ford Childress displays what he’s got for the first time in front of fans.

And then do this, mind you, with a shadow hanging of Florida State QB Clint Trickett, who is interested in transfering to WVU making an official visit, in the air.

Will this game determine the quarterback?

Hardly. They haven’t determined who is No. 1 in an entire spring of practice.

“We will mix them,” Holgorsen said, explaining what his approach will be. “What we have been doing in the previous 11 practices is Paul (Millard) will go with the first team then (Ford Childress) will go with the first team.

“Not only do they switch, but the receivers rotate. The linemen will also go back and forth. We keep the quarterback with a specific center, and that changes every other practice. We will keep doing the same thing during camp. There will be a lot of moving parts during the spring game, and I hope we win.

“Spring games are tough. You want it to look good for the fans that come. It is going to be a festive day, and we want it to resemble football.”

“Resemble football” … that’s what he said, indicating just how far they are from making any of the decisions that are necessary and how this game will not be the answer to them.

Still, the quarterbacks understand they will be on display.

“Every time we take the field it’s always important,” Childress admitted. “We’re not out there to mess around. It’s important to get some good, quality reps on film.”

“It’s been a long spring,” Millard admitted. “It will be good to get out there and compete. It will be fun to get out there with the guys and hopefully score some points. It will be a good time.”

Millard understands that the real work lies ahead, whether or not Trickett comes to town.

“You finish spring ball, and you still have three months of summer where you can work on your own,” he said. “You may not be scrimmaging or competing, but you are working on little things like footwork and being accurate.

“Just because spring ball is over doesn’t mean you stop grinding.”

Childress, of course, will be front and center, as no one has seen him before and it has been more than a year since he played in a game.

“There may be some butterflies, but I don’t think too many,” he said. “We just have to look at this as another practice deal, a scrimmage, and have fun for the fans.”

To make the situation for the quarterbacks even more intriguing, and it is intriguing enough with Trickett in the picture for this year, is the commitment of quarterback William Crest, a pass-first, dual threat QB out of Dunbar High in Baltimore.

Crest has been rated as high as a 4-star prospect for the class of 2014 out of the same school that gave WVU star receiver Tavon Austin and that promises to provide a pipeline of talent in the future.

Crest had offers from Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, Virginia and Virginia Tech, among others, the Rutgers offer going back to when he was a high school sophomore.

The day is also more entertaining as the school invites back nearly 200 former players such as Anthony Becht, Avon Cobourne, Rasheed Marshall and others who enjoy a weekend of golf and partying.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

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