West Virginia QB battle will produce clear winner

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen isn't above admitting mistakes, and that quarterback carousel last season, boy, that was a mistake.

"I had never done that before," Holgorsen said Saturday. "And I think we would all agree that was not the answer."

Last fall, with Geno Smith bound for the NFL, West Virginia was without its three-year starter and his stellar production -- 4,205 passing yards and 42 touchdowns to just six interceptions in 2012.

In the first week of August, Holgorsen was asked whether he would consider rotating two quarterbacks as the season crept closer.

"I've never done it," he said at the time. "And I don't plan on doing it."

And to his credit, he didn't. He rotated three quarterbacks instead.

Paul Millard and Ford Childress each started twice before Clint Trickett took the reins and rode out the remainder of the rocky 4-8 season. The trio's pedestrian play added up to 3,145 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Now after adding junior-college transfer Skyler Howard and freshman William Crest, West Virginia will have five potential quarterback options entering fall camp. This time, with a date with Alabama looming Aug. 30, expect Holgorsen to stick to his guns.

"We're going to have to come up with a plan to narrow it down," Holgorsen said. "We're going to have to figure out who the guy is and give him all the reps."

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said the quarterback number will be whittled down within the first week of August.

"We're not going to rep five quarterbacks in practice," he said. "That's pretty obvious. Decisions will have to be made."

Trickett had shoulder surgery in January and missed the entirety of spring practices. Crest will arrive June 7 in Morgantown, he said, and have two months to get up to speed.

Coaches have spoken highly of Trickett and Crest, and every indication is that they will be given more than a fighting chance in fall camp, which means the three quarterbacks who participated in the spring -- Millard, Howard and Logan Moore -- could be on the chopping block.

The three quarterbacks combined for 308 passing yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers Saturday in the Gold-Blue spring game at Mountaineer Field, but Dawson characterized their collective performance as "average."

"Nobody did anything extraordinary," he said.

Holgorsen stripped the quarterbacks of their no-contact yellow jerseys with a week left in camp after determining they "weren't making the progress we wanted," and he was pleased with the end results.

"I thought it was fun," Holgorsen said. "It was fun watching those guys get hit."

Nobody took that challenge -- or the opportunity to play catch-me-if-you-can -- better than Moore. He completed 10 passes for 109 yards and flashed impressive elusiveness with a 28-yard dash, the team's longest rush of the game.

Moore, a transfer from nearby Fairmont State, "always dreamed of" being the starting quarterback at West Virginia, he said, but last season found himself relegated to scout-team wide receiver duties.

Moore got back under center for the spring thanks to the dearth of healthy quarterbacks, and with a little dazzle the 5-foot-11 speedster found his way back into the spotlight -- and, surprisingly enough, finally into the quarterback conversation.

"With the work I've put in and what I've proven I can do, they have to give me a shot," Moore said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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