"It's getting to know each other on a different level," Dawson said. "When I was the receivers coach, obviously we had a different relationship, but it was probably more in depth than you think. I was in control of more of the offense than just the receivers. But right now, it's different obviously because we're breaking in two new ones and competition always creates a certain amount of intensity."
Dawson is blending his intensity into the competition. He said he is not a friend to his players. They can have relationships and those can become close relationships over time, but Dawson is consistently blunt and stern, evidenced by the way he was as upset about the indecision Millard and Childress exhibited to take so many sacks before Millard spoiled the final play.
"My approach has always been like that with quarterbacks," Dawson said. "I think you've got to put them under heat to see how they respond and the best way to do that is not sitting there being buddy-buddy with them. That's not my approach with them. They're all going to mess up. They're going to be bad, and when they do good, you pat them on the butt. But the only way to know how a kid is going to perform under pressure is to put them under pressure."
The relationship between the quarterbacks and their coach is unique on a football team. The audience is small in meetings.
The instruction has to be direct because the player's success is tied to the team's success. Without a favorite at the position, Dawson has to be equally severe and supportive with Millard and Childress, but also treat freshman Chavas Rawlins the same so that he learns the same lessons and gets used to Dawson's approach.
Dawson's approach doesn't waver, either. Defenses aren't going to take it easy on the quarterbacks. They're not going to back away from successful plans. No pity will be granted. Dawson doesn't want to set a false precedent with his practices. He instead is giving his players a head start on reality.
"I don't try to push buttons," Dawson said. "I don't even think about it that way. I think if you're doing good, you're doing good. If you're struggling, you've got to be able to handle adversity. I've always believed that you've got to sometimes stir the pot a little bit and sometimes you've got to create some adversity."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.