By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
If you’re looking to learn who your next West Virginia University quarterback is going to be, forget it.
Paul Millard and Ford Childress have done nothing to separate themselves yet this spring, according to offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Shannon Dawson.
In fact, he will go so far as to say “there’s never been a quarterback race more even than those two.”
And Dawson doesn’t see that changing any time soon.
“They’re even. They are doing the same things good, the same things bad,” he said. “One day, one of them may slightly do better but, to be honest with you, to this point there’s probably a lot more bad than good.
“That’s just the way it is. They’re learning; they’re growing. If you expect them to be at the position where they go and perform on Saturday now, they’re not. They’re not there yet, and I think everyone understands they’re not there yet.”
And Millard, who backed up Geno Smith last year and played enough to throw one touchdown pass, and Childress, a taller, more athletic looking redshirt, are not alone on this offense.
“It’s not the only position we’re inexperienced. Thank goodness for spring ball. We’re not in any hurry to get on the field,” Dawson said.
As things now stand, the quarterback battle is between Millard and Childress. Freshman Chavas Rawlins is not in the picture at present and Fairmont’s Logan Moore, who was the fourth quarterback, has permanently been moved to wide receiver.
The move was something they experimented with during spring practice prior to spring break.
“We’ve put him out there a couple of times with no reps, with no meeting times because he’s in there with me and the quarterbacks and he did some big things,” Dawson said, admitting that hastened the move.
“He’s never played receiver before, and we’re just giving him an opportunity. He’s an athletic kid; he’s a smart kid; he’s a competitive kid. Why not give him an opportunity to get on the field. He was behind those guys.”
It didn’t take much to talk Moore into the move.
“The thing about that kid is he’ll do anything to help the team, anything to get on the field,” Dawson said. “I’m not saying we won’t use him in a game as an emergency quarterback, but I know we have moved him there permanently where he’s in that meeting room. We want to see how he responds on it. This is an opportunity to get on the field.”
That puts everything on Millard and Childress, and they are not ready at present, still making a lot of mistakes.
“I would hope they would be 100 percent completions in every period. You strive to leave the field with perfection, but I don’t know that I have ever been 100 percent pleased with any quarterback, to be 100 percent honest with you,” Dawson said.
“They’re not anywhere near where they need to be right now. I’m not anywhere close to being satisfied yet.”
And so the head-to-head battle continues, with Dawson hoping that one will take charge.
“Eventually, you want it clear cut,” he admitted. “If you hogtied me and put me under a fire right now and made me make a decision, then chances are it could be the wrong decision because it’s so close. But, hopefully at some point one of them rises up. I always say the cream rises to the top, and we have a long time.”
With them taking 50 percent of the reps each makes them compete on even terms.
“What I think is good about them each taking 50 percent of the reps is it is going to make them better. You can’t be complacent when it’s that close,” Dawson said. “So, if either of them gets complacent, the other will win the job. There’s no doubt about that. To have that mental grind every day is tough. You have to come in and compete every single day.”
So when does Dawson believe he’ll have a true starter?
“For us to have a quarterback named at the end of spring is farfetched. We have a whole spring, a whole summer and a whole camp. We want the competition to make both of them better,” he said.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.