Skyler Howard will be entering his senior season with something to prove.
Actually, that’s been the theme for his entire college career, dating back to his days at Stephen F. Austin and Riverside City College. He was always told he wasn’t good enough to be a starting quarterback at the highest level of college football.
Last season, he not only proved he could maintain his position at West Virginia, but thrive in it.
This year, he needs to lead the team even more as the Mountaineers should try to compete for the Big 12 Conference championship.
What blemished Howard’s effort last season was a four-game losing streak through the month of October. The Mountaineers suffered back-to-back-to-back-to-back setbacks against conference foes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU.
That can’t happen in 2016. And, it won’t, because Howard is more seasoned at this level than he was a year ago.
He showed signs of being a more polished quarterback at Saturday’s Gold-Blue Spring Game.
Howard threw for three touchdowns against the WVU defense and completed 18 of 26 passes for a total of 270 yards. In games last year, Howard threw for 270 or more yards in six of 12 games. Mind you, with Wendell Smallwood emerging as the best running back in the Big 12, West Virginia ran the more than it did in previous years.
Still, Howard learned how to handle a more balanced attack. The passing game in the Cactus Bowl was anything but balanced, though. Howard threw the ball 51 times and completed 28 passes for an eye-opening 532 yards.
The Mountaineers put up 672 yards of total offense in the come-from-behind victory.
About three months after that thrilling victory in Arizona, Howard had to show those same heroics as his offense came back against the defensive team.
Back up quarterbacks William Crest, Chris Chugunov and David Sills threw second half touchdown passes in the Spring Game has the offense rallied for a 49-46 victory in front of about 6,000 fans at The Greenbrier Resort.
Either one of those guys will be the WVU quarterback of the future. But for now, Howard is the man in charge.