MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The final score was 41-33 and that would suggest a failed two-point conversion play that ended West Virginia's Gold-Blue Game Saturday was inconsequential for the offensive team that lost to the defense.
Yet after Paul Millard handed off to Wendell Smallwood and the freshman running back was stopped short by safety K.J. Dillon, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson found Millard on the field and had something to say.
"I don't think I can repeat it," said Dawson, who doubles as the team's quarterbacks coach.
Dawson had called a pass play. Millard took that call, surveyed the defense, spotted something that spooked him and checked out of the pass play and into a run play. True, Dawson's side lost by a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Good luck convincing him that that two-point play didn't matter to the man who's to choose between the junior Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress to start the 2013 season.
"I've got to get them to where they understand there are times we're going to allow you to check, but there are also times, critical situations, when they've got to trust us," Dawson said. "Trust we're going to put them in situations where we've got the right play called and they've got to execute the play. Understand the difference between a critical situation and an open-field play where we're just playing football. That's a two-point play. That's a critical situation."
The Mountaineers never intended to pick a starting quarterback in the spring. Coach Dana Holgorsen said Saturday one quarterback typically separates himself after two weeks of preseason camp, which doesn't begin until the first weekend of August - and there can only be one. Holgorsen and Dawson both said they'll never go into a season or a game planning to rotate quarterbacks.
The goal of the 15 practices was instead to establish and develop trust, the trust that Childress and Millard enjoyed with Dawson throughout much of the spring, but the trust each abandoned at times in the spring game.
While Dawson is in entering his third season as the coordinator, he's in the early stage of his first season as the quarterbacks coach. Jake Spavital had that job the previous two years and he was close with the players in his meeting room. Dawson recruited Millard and was part of the group that recruited Childress over a longer period of time, but their experiences together are still new.