Notebook: Backup QB has best view of Smith's work
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- He probably will never get into the game.
But like any good understudy, West Virginia backup quarterback Paul Millard said he's ready.
Millard has seen little action behind Geno Smith this season, completing 7 of 10 passes for 124 yards with three appearances.
He now finds himself in the backyard of Smith's hometown, for a game he has had a month to prepare for but with little hope to play.
So what is a backup quarterback to do?
Take it all in, Millard said.
"I'll be watching Geno, how he prepares for the game. I try to prepare the same way for the game that he does," he said.
Recruited by receivers coach Shannon Dawson for another school, Millard came to West Virginia in the spring.
He has had a front-row seat watching Smith and the offense evolve since the season opened.
"One thing that makes Geno a really good player is his ability to make something out of nothing. To save the play. That's one thing he's done a really good job of all year," Millard said. "We've come a long way. It's funny to look back at. To watch film at Game 1, and Game 12. This offense just keeps evolving. You get more used to it, and it becomes more natural."
Defensive end Andre Branch sets the tone for the Clemson defense, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said.
"He wakes up talking. He sets the tempo high for the defense."
Branch said he takes pride in the role
"I notice throughout the year if I'm down my teammates are down. I might as well be on edge from first thing in the morning."
The previous time West Virginia was in Florida, Tyler Bitancurt had quite a game, kicking the winning 28-yard field goal as time expired against South Florida. A laid-back person away from the field, he said he has been aided this season by coach Dana Holgorsen's approach to games.
"He has a different view, as in worry about ourselves. Do what we can do," Bitancurt said. "We all know we have a good opponent, but in the end we have to play our game. That helps me relax and not stress about what goes on."
Running back Shawne Alston went to high school with Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. He said while he plans to shake his hand after the game it will be all business before.
Dawson, when asked about how the team's timing on offense is looking.
"I'll tell you that at halftime on [Wednesday]. I don't know. There's been times where we've had weeks off in the past, and we've came back and played great. There's been times where we had weeks off and came back and we couldn't complete a ball. If I had to answer to that, I'd put it in a bottle and sell it to every coach in America. But I don't know."
First Published January 3, 2012 12:00 am