WVU football: Holgorsen still unsure about starting QB
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Before last week, Dana Holgorsen had never lost a starting quarterback to injury in six-plus seasons and 83 games as a head coach and offensive coordinator.
Considering he asked his quarterbacks to throw 3,633 passes in that time, that's not a hollow achievement.
Yet redshirt freshman Ford Childress was unable to go Saturday against Oklahoma State because of a torn right pectoral muscle. He stepped aside for junior Clint Trickett in the 30-21 upset of the Cowboys.
"I told Ford last week he was the first quarterback to ever miss a game - big and strong my butt," Holgorsen said at his weekly news conference Tuesday.
"He thinks he's big and strong and tough, but he's my first quarterback ever to miss a game. But an opportunity arose for Clint to get out there and he played well."
Trickett completed 24-of-50 passes for 309 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the win that saw WVU run a season-high 90 plays. He might have also started a new streak.
Holgorsen made no statement that suggested Trickett will be healthy enough to start in Saturday's game at No. 17 Baylor (3-0). The 8 p.m. game will be televised by Fox Sports 1.
Childress didn't practice Tuesday and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson said Childress still can't throw. Trickett did practice and Dawson said Trickett and junior Paul Millard split the snaps pretty evenly.
"With these guys, they need to practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday because we're dealing with three guys who are so inexperienced," Holgorsen said. "If they can't practice (Tuesday) and Wednesday, I doubt I'm going to put them out there on Thursday to play Saturday because these guys need the reps. If they don't have the reps through the course of the week, I'm not going to feel good about it."
Trickett, who transferred from Florida State in April, injured his right shoulder and briefly left his first start at WVU.
Holgorsen said Tuesday that Trickett and Childress are both day-to-day.
Holgorsen said he'll watch Trickett and Childress all week and keep an eye on who is healthy and who practices best.
"Then again, I don't know what 'healthy' means," Holgorsen said.
"If they're both 100 percent, right now I'd probably go with Clint. He did a god job keeping plays alive and having some savvy to him. He reacted to the game of football pretty well.
"If he's half-speed and Ford is 100 percent, it'd probably make more sense to go with Ford."
West Virginia has won games with three different starting quarterbacks this season and Holgorsen said Tuesday he might have to go back to junior Paul Millard, who started and won the opener against William & Mary and lost at Oklahoma.
"If (Trickett and Childress) are both 50 percent, it might make more sense to go with Paul," Holgorsen said.
The specifics of Trickett's injury aren't known. Childress' pectoral muscle wasn't ripped from the bone and doesn't require surgery, Holgorsen said.
"His range of motion is better now than it was last week," Holgorsen said. "The soreness goes away and you play your way through it. It sounds worse than it is."
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HOLGORSEN HAS been far more informative about how he feels about WVU's special teams. He said after Saturday's win the group coached by Joe DeForest now runs had "lots of issues" that needed to be fixed.
The Mountaineers are No. 109 out of 135 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in kickoff returns, No. 102 in punt returns and No. 102 in kickoff return defense.
Holgorsen has managed to keep quiet about one thing, though.
"I promised Coach DeForest I wouldn't not talk to the kickers under any circumstances whatsoever," he said.
Redshirt freshman placekicker Josh Lambert tested that pledge by missing a pair of kicks against the Cowboys, but Holgorsen said he remained silent and was later rewarded when Lambert was good on two fourth-quarter attempts.
Lambert is 6-for-10 this season.
Holgorsen said he lined punt returners up at their 10-yard line Sunday and practiced backing up and not fielding kicks, a drill that was necessitated by two fair catches at the 3 already this season.
He put his kick returners to work, too. Receivers Ronald Carswell and Mario Alford and running backs Wendell Smallwood and Charles Sims have averaged 18.1 yards on 16 returns.
"I think our kick returners are garbage," he said. "It's not the front line. A lot of times guys catch it and run it and get drilled because of the blocking. The front line people, the blocking, the scheme, they're all good."
Holgorsen said Sunday's practice featured open auditions for kickoff returners and that six players are being considered with changes likely coming Saturday.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.