QBs flourish under WVU’s Holgorsen

Numbers rarely lie.

And if you look at the numbers posted by quarterbacks playing under Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid attack, it would be hard to believe that the signal-caller that replaces Geno Smith at WVU this fall – whoever that individual may be – will be among the nation’s statistical leaders.

If those numbers equate to victories then the Mountaineers will be in the hunt for a Big 12 title. However, if they don’t (a.k.a. last season), then fans of the old gold and blue have little to cheer for in 2013.

The record books show that Holgorsen’s quarterbacks have put up huge numbers, beginning with Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell in 2006 and ending with Smith’s performance during WVU’s 7-6 campaign last fall.

Harrell threw for 4,555 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2006 and followed that up with 5,705 yards and 48 touchdowns one year later.

WVU’s latest head coach then took his talents to Houston where his Air Raid attack helped the Cougars’ Case Keenum post 5,013 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2008 and 5,632 yards and the same number of six-pointers in 2009.

A one-year stay at Oklahoma State where he tutored the Cowboys’ Brandon Weeden, who threw for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns, earned Holgorsen a shot at taking over the offensive coordinator’s job in Morgantown.

That job turned into a head coach position (a story that doesn’t need to be told again and again and again), and a chance to work with the Mountaineers’ Smith, who was coming off of a pretty good season with WVU the previous fall.

Smith’s maturation showed immediately as he threw for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns in Year 1 under Holgorsen. Year No. 2 witnessed the total yards number drop to 4,198, but the touchdowns go up to 42.

Numbers that have every fan hoping that Holgorsen’s history of turning relatively unknown quarterbacks into high NFL draft picks will continue. But this year’s crop of signal callers may be a true test for the third-year head coach.

Until the late addition of former-Florida State quarterback Clint Trickett, it appeared as if the battle for the starting quarterback job at WVU was going to come down to junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.

Neither were impressive enough during the Mountaineers’ 15 spring practices that ended with the annual Gold/Blue Scrimmage.

Bring in Trickett, who posted decent numbers as a backup to E.J. Manuel, an NFL first round pick, and appeared to be the man to beat when the Seminoles opened spring drills.

That didn’t’ happen, however, and the son of former-WVU assistant Rick Trickett decided to ‘test the waters’ known as college football and ended up landing in Morgantown. An early graduation from FSU made him immediately eligible and made the quarterback picture at WVU a little more cloudy.

Trickett has the experience and history shows that Holgorsen’s success with experienced signal-callers is solid. But with so many questions surrounding a unit that lost, not only Smith, but top receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and J.D. Woods, will that be enough?

Contact Jim Butta via email at jbutta@newsandsentinel.com