Millard is WVU's Best Option at QB

Before anyone sets any kind of expectations for West Virginia junior quarterback Paul Millard, there is something they should know.

He's not Geno Smith.

He's not going to be the kind of quarterback who amazes with his athleticism or a big arm. He doesn't have that same "star power" that the former West Virginia signal caller had the last few seasons.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In order for WVU to be successful this season, that might not be the best type of quarterback for this team.

The Mountaineers are in need of a dependable, efficient quarterback to lead the way. Someone who knows when to take a risk and when to be quick with his reads and let his playmakers work in space - which is when Dana Holgorsen's offense has always been the most successful.

They need a game manager, and Millard fits that bill.

With the talent WVU has in the running game this season, it will take a bit of the pressure off Millard – or Clint Trickett, if the Florida State transfer gets another shot at the job. They don't have to put up the numbers that Smith put up over the course of the last two seasons under Holgorsen.

And he showed what he could do when he took the field for his first career start Saturday afternoon against William & Mary. It was the day he had been waiting two years for since he got to campus in January 2011 as one of Holgorsen's first recruits.

From the game's first drive, Millard looked to be in control. He completed all four passes for 40 yards on a touchdown drive to kick off the game, running the offense at a fast pace while making his reads and finding open receivers consistently.

After his last two drives of the first quarter resulted in no more points and Trickett came in, Millard was relegated to the sideline, forced to watch as his counterpart in the two-man race for the starting job attempt to state his case for the nod.

But after just two pass attempts and two three-and-out drives, Millard got the call again.

And he never came out of the game.

"The closer it got to game day, the communication between Paul and me was better," Holgorsen said. "I felt more comfortable with Paul out there.

"After Paul got going a little bit, my plan was to put Clint in during the second quarter, but after two three-and-outs, I thought it was appropriate to go back to Paul."

Millard finished the game with 237 yards and a touchdown while completing 19 of his 25 pass attempts. He looked comfortable running the offense, poised in the pocket and calm in the face of adversity as the Mountaineers clawed their way back to a win.

Sure, it was against William & Mary – a team that, by all accounts, WVU should not have had that much trouble with in the first place – but Millard showed he has what it takes to manage the game the way the coaching staff needs its quarterback to.

Heading into a huge matchup against Oklahoma in a week, Holgorsen needed to find someone to do the one thing he had been waiting to happen since the spring. He needed a quarterback to emerge as "the guy."

Millard was able to prove he could be the quarterback trusted to take the reins once the Mountaineers find themselves in a tough game.

He knows he doesn't have to do it all himself. He has options like Charles Sims, Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith in the running game, as well as a deep group of receivers to lean on to catch the ball and make plays.

Was it pretty? Not always. But that's not what matters.

"We ask the quarterback to manage the game, and I thought he did that," said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. "But in my opinion, there are no ugly wins. We're 1-0, we'll take it."

Saturday it was Millard who gave WVU the best chance to win, and he'll continue to do that the rest of the season.


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