All Eyes Under Center

With spring practice in Morgantown now in full swing, one question above all others weighs heaviest on the minds of Mountaineer fans.

"Who will be the quarterback?"

That's the query that everyone asks, and the one which the Mountaineer coaching staff hopes to have a solid answer for by the start of the season.

Many fans are ready to give the football to redshirt freshman Ford Childress and prepare for the opener against William & Mary. But as ready as that segment of the fansbase is, junior Paul Millard may have something to say about that. True freshman Chavis Rawlins is also in the mix, but he stands likely to be redshirted. The battle likely lies between the returnees.

When you compare the two, both put up huge numbers in Texas. When you come from Texas, success is expected. Millard threw for 4,491 yards and 47 touchdowns at Flower Mound High School. Throw in Class 5A All-State Honorable Mention and you have a career. Childress attended Houston Kinkaid High School where he threw for 3,171 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was also an ESPN150 recruit.

Some would argue that Millard should have the advantage in the battle. After having two years in the system under his belt and having studied under Geno Smith, the system shouldn't be an issue for Millard. That argument isn't enouugh for some Mountaineer fans. Millard has all the talent and ability in the world, but he needs to work within the system.

Too many times has Millard entered a game and forced a throw, or thrown a go-route looking for a big play. Those decisions have led to turnovers, and you're as good as your last throw. When you look Millard's numbers over the last two seasons, he's completed 16 of 34 passes for 211 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in limited action.

Quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson points out, though, that Millard was often playing with others who didn't know what they were doing, and that certainly affected his play.

That brings us to Childress. He put up huge numbers in high school, but like Rawlins, has never taken a college snap. Are expectations from fans a bit much? It's possible.

Every fan has their team winning every game, winning a conference championship, and winning a national title. In West Virginia, we look for the next Major Harris, Pat White, Steve Slaton, Noel Devine or Darryl Talley.

Now Mountaineer fans are looking for the next Geno Smith, a comparison that isn't fair to either quarterback in their first year starting. Let's look at the facts.

As good as Smith was, he had issues at times picking up certain coverages or checking into the right play. He locked on to his primary receiver on occasion. What will those coverages do to a freshman quarterback, or someone with limited action?

As Patrick Southern pointed out on Monday, the WVU quarterbacks have a long way to go, and a starter likely won't be determined until fall. Withjust a couple of days of spring practice in the books, the Mountaineer signal callers will be watched very closely by the coaching staff, but the idea that the starter has already been picked, or that a favorite exists, isn't true, if you believe what the coaches say. The good news for fans is that William & Mary doesn't arrive until August 31st.


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