The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

September 7, 2013

WVU, OU QBs similar, yet different

MORGANTOWN — A football game never boils down simply to one quarterback as opposed to another

Someone has to catch his passes, block for him, tackle the opposition and cover its receivers while others kick and return kicks.

Yet, in its simplest analysis, tonight’s West Virginia University-Oklahoma game at Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium, shown at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports, can best be seen as a confrontation of two first-year starting quarterbacks in the Mountaineers’ Paul Millard and Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight.

They are different, yet the same.

As odd as that may sound, it is a statement of fact.

Different?

Millard is known as a thrower, a “gunslinger” in high school who, in his debut as a starter completed 19 of 25 passes, which is 76 percent.

As a runner, Millard carried once, for minus-14 yards on a sack.

“I don’t think anyone is going to get a kick out of watching Paul Millard run the triple option or the speed option,’’ West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “There are obvious differences in what we’re asking from them. Not putting too much on the quarterback is important.’’

Knight is known as a runner. In his first start, he led the Sooners with 103 rushing yards on 13 carries.

But his passing was, shall we say, lacking, as he completed just 11 of 28, 39.3 percent, for 86 yards.

Hidden in those statistics, though, is that Millard managed only one touchdown pass while Knight had 3.

In truth, there is potential for Knight’s passing to come around quickly; certainly he has more of a chance to become a passer than Millard has to become a runner.

“His completion percentage wasn’t very good, but when I watched the tape, he’s pretty good. He can throw,” Holgorsen said. “I would anticipate him figuring things out and being a very good quarterback for Oklahoma. Hopefully he doesn’t get things figured out this week.”

So, you can see, they differ, but as stated they are also the same.

Holgorsen hinted at that when he said that not putting too much on the quarterback is important.

Both are limited by a lack of experience, and with that lack of experience comes a lack of confidence from the coaches until they prove themselves the way Geno Smith at WVU and Landry Jones at Oklahoma did.

Actually, Holgorsen admitted Oklahoma put more on Knight that WVU did on Millard.

“They’re asking Knight to do a lot more different things than we’re asking,’’ Holgorsen said. “Look at what we did last year. We were throwing the ball all over the place last year, and this year we’re running the ball a lot.’’

Stoops, by nature of his offense, had to have Knight do both for if he shows a reluctance to throw the football it will take away much in the running game as defensive backs crowd the line of scrimmage.

“He did some things really well obviously with his legs when you rush for over a hundred yards,’’ Stoops said. “That part was really good. Throwing the ball early wasn’t very good.

“But I’ve got great confidence in how he does throw the football. Once he settles down and gets more comfortable with the situation, I expect him to throw the ball in a better way. He made some nice throws, particularly in the second half. He’s got a great arm, so it’s just getting him comfortable to manage and handle the situation a little bit better early.’’

Conversely, Holgorsen saw Oklahoma hold Louisiana-Monroe to just 34 rushing yards this past week and realizes he is going to have to trust Millard and allow him to become more “Genoesquian” in his quarterbacking.

“I’d like to throw the ball a lot more than what we did,” Holgorsen said. “You’re talking about throwing the ball about 30 percent of the time. That’s embarrassing. We’ll try to correct that, that’s for certain. I say I don’t care much about stats, but we’ve got to be a little more balanced.

“What the heck’s going on here? I’m talking about balance, and everybody says it’s an Air Raid and we throw the ball 80 or 90 percent of the time. I’m talking about balance because we can’t get the ball in the air 50 percent of the time.”

The most likely scenario is to see Holgorsen use Charles Sims, his talented new running back, much as he used Tavon Austin last year against Oklahoma, perhaps trying to catch lighting in a bottle again. Austin rushed for 344 yards and WVU gained 778 total yards, more than any team previously had gained against the Sooners – ever.

Sims almost certainly will run many of the Austin pass patterns, too, for the key will be using safe passes to get it in his hands and try to let him gain yards on his own, just as Austin was able to do.

WVU is a 21-point underdog going into the first conference game of the season, so Holgorsen has to feel he has nothing to lose by opening up the offense.

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

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU punter turns heads at linebacker

    They call him “Huey the Punter.”
    His real name is Houstin Syvertson. His real position is not punter. Not anymore, anyway.
    To be honest, until Saturday’s spring game, not many people following West Virginia football knew the name or the nickname. They know it now.

    April 13, 2014

  • Fans looking for answers in WVU Gold-Blue Game

    Perhaps the most important spring practice in Dana Holgorsen’s tenure as West Virginia football coach comes to a conclusion at 1 p.m. today when the annual Gold-Blue Spring Football Game is held at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
    The gates open at noon and tickets are $10 with net proceeds benefiting WVU Children’s Hospital.

    April 12, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole moves beyond scars of WVU’s bad year

    The talk was supposed to be about Nick O’Toole’s punting, which was far too big a part of West Virginia’s season last year, considering that the offense just didn’t live up to advertisements, but it soon changed.
    Standing there on the field in Charleston last Saturday, following the final open practice before today’s 1 p.m. Gold and Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium, you couldn’t help but notice a pair of scars under his closely cropped hair that went from ear to ear and forehead to the back of his head.

    April 12, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads