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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
A football game never boils down simply to one quarterback as opposed to another
- WVU Sports
Mountaineers stun No. 8 Kansas, 92-86
The missing link finally showed itself for West Virginia University on Saturday, maybe just in time to save the season for the Mountaineers.
“Better late than never,” is the way WVU guard Eron Harris put it after freshman center Devin Williams stepped out of the shadows and put together the game everyone has been waiting for in leading the Mountaineers to a crucial 92-86 victory over Kansas.
Fairmont native named next Mountaineer
The riffle has been passed.
Fairmont native Michael Garcia was named West Virginia University’s new Mountaineer Saturday.
The announcement came at the eight minute mark of the men’s basketball team’s eventual 92-86 upset win over No. 8 Kansas at the WVU Coliseum.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Eron Harris bounces back to spark WVU
One minute and forty-seven seconds had ticked off the Coliseum clock on Saturday afternoon and things were off to the kind of start most people had expected, Kansas in the lead, albeit as slender as a one-point lead can be.
That was when Juwan Staten spotted Eron Harris open beyond the 3-point arc.
Staten plans to test NBA after season
To the surprise of no one, West Virginia University guard Juwan Staten is going to explore his opportunities in the NBA at the end of this season, a season in which he has become perhaps the best player in the Big 12.
WVU women outlast TCU to advance in Big 12 tournament
In the afternoon, West Virginia’s men’s team gave up a career-high 41 points to Andrew Wiggins but found a way to tough out a victory over Kansas.
Then Saturday evening, the West Virginia women’s team gave up a career-high 32 points to Zahna Medley but found a way to tough out a victory over TCU in the second round of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championships in Oklahoma City.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Buie returns to WVU after a year away
It’s nearly every little boy’s dream to become a college football athlete, to play in a stadium before 60,000, 70,000, 100,000 fans, to wear the colors of a university proudly. There are cheerleaders and groupies; there’s your name in headlines, your picture in the newspapers.
WVU looks to back up Huggins’ prediction
It was after Kansas defeated West Virginia University, 83-69, a month ago in Lawrence, Bob Huggins reached into his deep library of inspirational sayings and came out with one from Abe Lemons, of all people, the one-time Texas coach who never was at a loss for words.
TCU tough matchup for WVU women
West Virginia University women’s basketball coach Mike Carey is trying to find a happy balance now for his team as it enters its second season, the Big 12 Tournament.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
- More WVU Sports Headlines
- Mountaineers stun No. 8 Kansas, 92-86