West Virginia Football: An Early Look at the QB Battle


With the college football offseason is in full-swing, there will be plenty to talk about when it comes to West Virginia.

One area of emphasis will be — once again — who will be playing quarterback for the Mountaineers in 2015?

In 2013, the Mountaineers were all over the map when it came to the quarterback positions. Three different players, Clint Trickett, Ford Childress and Paul Millard all saw action.

This season, however, Trickett was the main attraction for the majority of the season. It wasn’t until the final games did West Virginia insert Skylar Howard to replace an injured Trickett.

The Mountaineer faithful also saw a short glimpse of freshman quarterback William Crest who received playing time during West Virginia’s blowout win over Towson.

Trickett’s playing days are over, he announced his retirement from football on Twitter, thanking WVU fans for all their support. He also revealed that he had received five concussions during the course of the season and will now pursue a career in coaching.

Howard, Crest, and Millard all seem to be the potential replacement for Trickett this coming season. It will be another offseason of speculations as a quarterback battle is on the horizon.

Let’s break down the candidates and see what each of them bring to the table.

Skylar Howard

Howard, a junior college transfer, found himself starting a bowl game for West Virginia, something that wasn’t expected his first season as a Mountaineer.

Nov 29, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Skyler Howard (3) dives out of bounds during their game with the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Before becoming West Virginia’s starter in the Liberty Bowl, he was asked to fill an injured Trickett’s shoes in game against No. 12 Kansas State.

Howard entered the game and sparked the Mountaineers. Howard managed to cut into the Wildcat’s lead, narrowing the game to just six points. Despite West Virginia coming up short in that game, Howard’s play was a pleasant surprise.

On the season, Howard threw for 829  yards, eight touchdowns and zero.

Howard is capable of eluding pressure and extending plays, which he did often during his few starts for West Virginia. His athletic ability will certainly give him edge over the likes of Millard, but will be challenged by Crest’s quickness.

Howard has a strong arm, but still needs work. He didn’t have a good game in the Liberty Bowl as his decision making will need to improve.

William Crest

When Crest was recruited by West Virginia, there was a lot of hype surrounding the young, Baltimore quarterback.  A touted prospect was headed to West Virginia to possibly be the answer at a position that was left with question marks ever since Geno Smith’s days.

Sep 6, 2014; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback William Crest Jr. (16) carries the ball against Towson Tigers cornerback Donnell Lewis (15) during the third quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. West Virginia won 54-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to like about Crest. He’s very versatile and athletic, capable of making plays with his legs.  This was evident in his debut against Towson.

In that game, Crest came in for Trickett while the Mountaineers were well ahead. Crest managed to to go 3-4 for seven yards, but rushed for 27 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground.

There’s a sense that head coach Dana Holgorsen and company want Crest to be West Virginia’s guy, but there’s still so much to be told about this young quarterback. It’ll come down to how well he can do in training camp as only time will tell whether or not Crest can live up to his hype.

Paul Millard

Out of all the quarterbacks on the roster, Millard posses the most experience. Millard saw a lot of time in 2013 — starting in seven games.

Nov 16, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Paul Millard (14) drops back to pass against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

During that season, Millard threw for 1,119 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.

While he has the experience, he’s does not have the athleticism that both Howard and Crest have. Millard can only be considered a pocket passer and a mediocre one to say the least. While he had glimmers of being a solid player, he’s too inconsistent to be handed total control. Even in his seven starts in 2013, he hasn’t proved he has the ability to this team

All three of these men will have a chance, but when you look at it on paper, Millard is the odd man out. He doesn’t stack up to athletic abilities of Howard and Crest.

While these three seem like the major candidates, perhaps one of the new recruits will make waves?

It’s probably going to come down to either Howard or Crest, and it’s going to make for an interesting showdown in the offseason.