By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
This may be difficult to believe, considering the casualty rate among quarterbacks in college football, but until this past week, when West Virginia redshirt freshman Ford Childress had to miss the game with Oklahoma State due to a torn pectoral muscle, Coach Dana Holgorsen had never had a QB miss a game.
Considering that he has coached as a quarterback coach, offensive coordinator or head coach for 15 years, that was quite a record, one of which he was proud.
“I told Ford that last week,” Holgorsen revealed in his Tuesday afternoon press conference. “‘Big and strong, my butt,’ I told him. He thinks he’s big and strong and tough, but he’s the first quarterback that ever missed a game. But with it an opportunity arose for Clint, and he did a good job and will continue to get better.”
Clint would be Clint Trickett, who took full advantage of the opportunity and led WVU to a 30-21 upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State.
But guess what? In the process, Trickett injured his throwing shoulder and Holgorsen, the coach who went 15 years without having a starting quarterback miss a game, may now have two different starting quarterbacks miss games in two weeks.
This is not a game to go into with quarterback problems, heading to Waco, Texas, to face the undefeated Baylor Bears, the nation’s highest scoring team and a team that is averaging better than 750 yards a game, albeit against a weak schedule to date.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Holgorsen wasn’t sure if Trickett would be ready to play, although Trickett did take snaps in practice and did throw the ball. No decision on his availability for Saturday was made.
He and Paul Millard shared the quarterbacking while Childress remained sidelined.
If Trickett can’t go, Millard would start and that would not be much of a drop off. He won the starting job out of camp and started the season’s first two games, beating William & Mary and losing to Oklahoma before Holgorsen promoted Childress to the starting job.
“The two quarterbacks (Trickett and Childress) are day-to-day,” Holgorsen said during his press conference prior to practice. “If both were 100 percent healthy, I would probably go with Trickett. If neither are healthy I’d go with Millard. And if both were 50 percent it would probably make more sense to go with Millard.”
Holgorsen said he felt it was necessary, considering how inexperienced all his quarterbacks are, that the starter practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Considering that both Trickett and Millard practiced Tuesday, it is safe to assume one of them will get the nod, with Trickett the most likely starter.
Holgorsen held both quarterbacks out of action for Sunday’s light practice with Millard handling the chores.
It is almost vital for Trickett to get in as much practice as possible because he drove Holgorsen crazy as he tried to communicate in getting the plays during Saturday’s game.
“I lost several years off my life due to the communication,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a long way away from operating our offense the way I want him to operate our offense. With that said, he reacted well. I was happy with how he reacted. I kind of had a sense he was going to do that just because he has experience and has been around the game his whole life,” Holgorsen said.
That is not to say Trickett was anywhere near where he wants his quarterback to be.
“How we coach offense is foreign to him. How we play offense is foreign to him,” Holgorsen said. “It is going to take some time to really grasp it, and we’ve known that. But being able to get him out there and watch him react to the game of football, he did well.
“He got the ball out of his hands. He kept the play alive. He kept his eyes downfield. He got knocked around a little but that doesn’t bother him. He jumps back up and gets ready to play the next snap.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.