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Chuck McGill: In WVU's case, having two QBs not a bad thing

What caused more consternation in the past 48 hours: Miley Cyrus and her gyration or Dana Holgorsen and his hesitation?

Billy Ray's offspring made headlines with Robin Thicke, while WVU's head football coach blurred the lines on who will start at quarterback this Saturday against William & Mary.

As for the latter, so what? It'll be Clint Trickett or Paul Millard at the helm when the Mountaineers host the Tribe at noon at Mountaineer Field. Or, it'll be Trickett and Millard splitting the duties.

If both play, don't lean on this old football axiom: if a team has two quarterbacks, it has none.

That may not apply here.

After all, Holgorsen's indecisiveness is a product of the positive for Mountaineer football.

Millard stayed in the QB competition because his level of play has risen the past couple weeks of preseason camp. That is a plus for WVU.

Millard, remember, has never competed for the starting job after sitting behind Geno Smith for two seasons. The arrival of a transfer and the presence of competition was likely mutually beneficial for Trickett and Millard.

If Trickett never steps on campus, does third-stringer Ford Childress push Millard as Trickett has? In that scenario - if there is a clear separation between Millard and Childress and Trickett picks another school this summer - then Holgorsen's decision would've been a cinch.

Instead of one capable starter, Holgorsen has two. That, too, is a plus for WVU.

The QB surplus isn't just a Mountain State issue in the Big 12 this season.

WVU's second-year league saw seven of the top 10 passers in the conference exhaust eligibility in 2012. Of the three returnees, only Texas junior David Ash has a seemingly firm grip on the QB job.

TCU's Trevone Boykin gives the Horned Frogs a pair of capable starting QBs with the return of Casey Paschal. Oklahoma State will use sophomore J.W. Walsh and senior Clint Chelf. The quarterback timeshare isn't dampening expectations for those two programs, both of which are ranked in the top 20 in the national preseason polls.

"If there was separation where one was considerably better than the other then we would name him the starter," Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy said. "Sometimes you have two good players and sometimes people feel like, well, if you don't name one then you don't have one.

"We have two guys who deserve to play in the game so we'll play both of them."

TCU Coach Gary Patterson understands that line of thinking. For the first time in his career he is confronted with the possibility of a two-QB system. In fact, Boykin and Paschal are his two offensive captains for the season opener.

Paschal, a senior, is 15-2 as a starter. Boykin, a sophomore, led TCU to three Big 12 road wins last year in Paschal's absence, including a 39-38 double-overtime win in Morgantown.

"I think I can win with both of them," Patterson said.

Time will tell if Holgorsen can do the same with his finalists - or if he even needs them both at all. The situation could sort itself out in Saturday's season opener.

Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury mentored Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M last season. Manziel won the job, but took it to another level on the field.

"Until the lights come on and you see them out there doing their thing and it's tackle to the ground, you really don't know exactly what you have," Kingsbury said. "I know last year until that first drive of the Florida game with Johnny, we knew we had a player; we didn't know we had a great player until then."

The Red Raiders may also use multiple quarterbacks at Southern Methodist in college football's opening weekend.

"We're not opposed to playing two guys," Kingsbury said, "if that's the best way to win the game. Whatever we think we need to do to win the game, we'll do as far as those quarterbacks go."

That logic is steering Holgorsen's decision-making as he embarks on this third season as a head coach. He said he is "not as antsy" as he thought he'd be without a starter in game week.

Perhaps that is because he knows he isn't in a situation like a baseball manager without a reliable closer. Maybe Closer A blows three consecutive save chances and gets the hook from the role, but Closer B squanders his chances, too. The committee approach is a byproduct of not having a quality option.

Holgorsen happens to have two players who've performed at such a high level that he's letting the competition continue and his quarterbacks improve.

There's no reason to cringe or avert your eyes.

Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.


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