WVU hoping to get quarterbacks healthy during off-week
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen's Monday night was spent the same way millions of other Americans spent theirs, with his attention turned to Monday Night Football as the Jets came from behind to defeat the Falcons.
He, though, was viewing it through a different lens than the rest of the nation, watching Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith engineer a come-from-behind victory, just as he had done for him on a number of occasions when Smith was breaking every passing record at WVU.
Considering the problems Holgorsen has had this season at quarterback, starting three different signal callers in six games on the way to a 3-3 record as his team goes into a bye week at the mid-point in the season, and considering they were coming off an embarrassing 73-42 loss at Baylor, one could only imagine the thoughts that went through Holgorsen's mind as he watched Smith operate.
Baylor's 73 points were the second most points WVU had ever given up, the record having been set in 1904 by Michigan in a 130-0 romp. Considering that Baylor had led 42-7 halfway through the second quarter and came to halftime with a 56-14 advantage and 604 total yards, it is not outrageous to assume that had Bears coach Art Briles not pulled his starters one series into the second half they might have scored 100 points and gained 1,000 yards in the game.
This beating comes a year after WVU, with Smith at quarterback and targeting current NFL receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, beat Baylor, 70-63, with 807 total yards and Smith throwing eight TD passes.
“It would be nice to have him,” Holgorsen admitted, when asked his emotions while watching Smith perform, especially in lieu of the ordeals WVU has gone through with Clint Trickett, Ford Childress and Paul Millard struggling through a difficult learning period and injuries.
“It would be nice to have any of the six last ones I've had,” he added, referring to Smith, Brandon Weeden, Case Keenum, Graham Harrell, Cody Hodges and Chris Hatcher. “Who knows which of the guys on our team right now can keep improving to the point that they are the next Geno Smith?
“They just have to keep playing. You look at Clint and Ford — they've only played two games in a Mountaineer uniform. They have to continue to get better. It's unfortunate that they're both dealing with injuries, but they have to continue to improve. I have all the confidence in the world that they will continue to improve.”
In truth, Saturday night it was difficult to watch Trickett struggle with a sore shoulder that had his arm dangling at his side when not in use and that even had him talking on the phone between series using his left hand rather than his right.
With a game plan that called for a number of deep post patterns against Baylor, it was no wonder an injured Trickett could complete only 9 of 28 attempts, one more completion against the Bears than Smith had TD passes last year.
As the Mountaineers enter an off-week before resuming Big 12 play at home against unbeaten Texas Tech at noon Oct. 19, Holgorsen plans to have Trickett rest his shoulder and Childress rest his torn pectoral muscle.
He said he was uncertain which one would start against Texas Tech, noting that Childress had “done nothing to lose his job” other than tear the muscle and that Trickett owned the upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and played well enough in that game to be the starter if healthy.