MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The comment that sent the quarterback competition spinning at West Virginia also seemed to dismiss the eventual winner.
It was a little more than two weeks before junior Paul Millard took the first and last snaps in Saturday's season-opening win against William & Mary when his coach, Dana Holgorsen, said Millard "makes the best decisions and the worst decisions" among the three candidates.
Considering that Holgorsen was seeking reliability and consistency to replace the talent and productivity lost when Geno Smith graduated, those words didn't do Millard many favors and served to boost junior Clint Trickett and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.
Yet in the very next breath that day in the middle of preseason camp, Holgorsen added something many chose to forget.
"He's got the most reps and is pretty comfortable," Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers went dark when camp ended Aug. 17 and Holgorsen had one teleconference and one news conference between then and the 24-17 win against the Tribe. Outsiders spent the idle time deciphering whispers about Millard's rumored rise and the formation of a two-man race that would include Trickett and cast aside Childress.
Last Monday, Holgorsen said he hadn't picked between Millard and Trickett and that he was preparing to play both. He followed through, but Millard played 65 of the game's 71 snaps and set up and executed a 69-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to tie the score.
"I knew it was six points the play before," he said. "We'd set it up. All I had to do was make sure I didn't overthrow it."
When Holgorsen explained his preference afterward for the person who once made the worst and best decisions, he revisited the words that followed that odd description and ultimately proved to be decisive.
"The closer it got, the more comfortable we were with the communication, with his experience, with the non-verbal communication with me and him and his experience seeing the signals and communicating them," Holgorsen said.
Millard eased Holgorsen's mind during the game, first completing four passes to three receivers to begin with a touchdown drive and starting 8-for-8 for 88 yards. He misfired on three of the next four attempts and had a costly fumble at the end of the first half to set up a William & Mary field goal and a 17-7 halftime deficit, but Millard finished 19-for-26 for 237 yards and the touchdown.
It was a very different experience for the former walk-on from Flower Mound, Texas. He was Smith's backup the last two seasons and would only get in if Smith lost his helmet or was hit hard, or if the game was out of hand and no longer needed Smith's services.