Finally, the day that you have all been waiting for, the day that HailWV reveals the Way Too Early Depth Chart for the most critical position on the field: quarterback.
This season, the Mountaineers will have the daunting task of replacing West Virginia legend Geno Smith. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill. Smith compiled 11,622 passing yards and 98 touchdowns in three seasons of starting under center in Morgantown while leading WVU to a 26-13 record including an Orange Bowl victory.
Smith’s heir apparent will likely be one of two players: junior Paul Millard or redshirt freshman Ford Childress. Let’s take a look at the resume of each player:
- Paul Millard, JR, 6’2″ 219 lbs
- WVU passing career: 16 of 34 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
- Ford Childress, r-FR, 6’5″ 234 lbs
- Redshirted last season, so no WVU stats compiled
- Led Houston Kinkaid High School to 20-1 record as starting quarterback. Threw 184 of 292 for 3,171 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions as a senior.
Thanks in large part to the NCAA ridiculous rule stipulating that players who helmets come off must sit out a play, Millard saw plenty of action this season. Well, and the fact that the football team was involved in many one-sided affairs (both for and against) also played a large part in Millard’s playing time. Had Ford Childress not been redshirted this past season, he would have likely seen playing time against Marshall, James Madison, and/or Kansas State.
Coach Holgorsen gave Childress the redshirt to save a year of elgibility with Smith locked in as the starter last season. The coaching staff had confidence in Millard as a back-up after being forced into the back-up role as a freshman due to multiple departures that season.
Now Holgorsen and company are faced with the issue of deciding between the experienced (limited) junior Millard and the highly touted quarterback recruit from a season ago Childress.
On paper, Paul Millard has shown flashes of greatness (Oklahoma State) but also flashes of ineptitude (Marshall). While West Virginia has a smalll sample size of Millard’s play, he is more of a known quantity at this point.
Childress is the wild card at this point. The Mountaineers coaching staff has seen him perform in practice, but still has no idea how he will perform during live game action against a defense that is actually trying to put him in the dirt (and not play tag). The Gold-Blue Game will be a step up in action for Millard, working in a more-game like situation where he will be able to show coaches how he reads the defensive coverage.
So which way will the coaches go? Here is what offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson says about the competition:
“I think both of those guys (Paul Millard and Ford Childress) are approaching practice differently. They are both battling for the job so they are getting 50-50 reps. There’s no clear cut quarterback. That’s also true with a lot of positions. We have a lot of competition, which is a good thing.” – Shannon Dawson
Since coach Dawson won’t make the call, then we’ll make the call for him (at least how we see it at this moment):
QB: Paul Millard, JR, 6’2″ 219 lbs; Ford Childress, r-FR, 6’5″ 234 lbs; Chavas Rawlins, FR, 6’2″ 202 lbs
When it comes down to it, we like Millard to take the starting quarterback job this season. Millard’s experience will end up being the difference in what is expected to be a very close quarterback battle. His demonstrated pocket awareness and ability to throw under duress will give him the edge he needs to become the starter for coach Holgorsen.
The only thing that could trip Millard up is his decision making process. He is not afraid to throw into coverage, but has made some really poor decisions in his limited snaps over the years.
Childress will likely serve as the back-up this season but will see playing time this season, especially against Georgia State. The playing time will go a long way to developing his abilities and could lead to a quarterback controversy. Hopefully this is not the case, because as the addage goes “if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback.”
For more on the Way Too Early Depth Chart series: