MORGANTOWN,W.Va. - Had Paul Millard been as accurate with his arm during the game as he was with his words after it, the West Virginia quarterback might not have been grieving the 16-7 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma.
The junior, making his second start, accepted plenty of blame for the mistakes he made as WVU finished with its lowest point total since the Champs Sports Bowl in 2010, but he also acknowledged that which could not be ignored.
"This one is going to be hard to swallow," he said. "We lose the game by nine points, but I know there were a lot of missed opportunities. There were throws where I had guys wide open and I just didn't make the throw."
The Mountaineers (1-1, 0-1 Big 12), who lost their conference opener for the first time since 2007, had plenty of other errors by other players. There were penalties that derailed drives in Sooners territory and mistakes on special teams that led to 10 points. Multiple receivers dropped passes, one coming by Ivan McCartney in the end zone. The offense, which has 31 points in two games, was 3-for-13 on third down, and Holgorsen, who runs the offense, bungled timeouts and wasted a challenge.
The one review that mattered most, though, was the decision to stick with Millard. Holgorsen said earlier in the week he had plans to use Clint Trickett against the Sooners, partly because he'd played them before when he was at Florida State and was familiar with the size and speed of the defenders.
It never happened, despite Millard's shortcomings. Holgorsen said he "almost" made the switch and "thought about it a bunch," but stuck with Millard because he was better able to handle the offense and the way it was tailored for the Sooners.
Holgorsen said OU Coach Bob Stoops and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, longtime adversaries at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State before WVU, knew his offense better than any other opponent.
The Mountaineers made some changes to make sure the Sooners couldn't intercept signals, and they huddled far more often than normal for added security. Holgorsen said WVU didn't feel confident that Trickett could handle the nuances as smoothly as Millard.
"At that point, the guy who's taken the most reps in the game was who we felt like we had the best opportunity with," offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson said.
Dawson said no thought was given to what impact a switch might have on Millard.
"We're trying to win a football game, not make anybody happy," he said. "I'm not worried if a guy gets upset if we're going to yank him. This isn't junior varsity football. You've got to have thick skin. You've got to grow up and start making plays."
Millard finished 21-for-41 for 218 yards with a bad decision on an interception and a lost fumble when he was sacked. Both occurred in Sooners territory.
The fumble, the second in as many games for Millard, came in the second quarter when the Mountaineers were driving following a Sooners touchdown. The interception came when Millard had completed four straight passes in the third quarter.