WVU to face William & Mary

MORGANTOWN-Call it David vs. Golliath or the ‘haves’ taking on the ‘have nots’, but however you want to put it, Dana Holgerson opens his third season at the helm of the West Virginia University Mountaineers at noon on Saturday.

And, as has been the case with the former-Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, there appears to be more doubt than fact surrounding how the old gold and blue will fair in 2013.

“I don’t know,” Holgorsen quipped during Tuesday’s press conference. “And, if I did, I wouldn’t tell you (the media).”

The Mountaineers’ top coach was, in his usual laid back manner, answering the summer long question of “who will start at quarterback” when the Tribe from William and Mary renew their series with WVU.

But, whether the starting signal-caller will be incumbent Paul Millard or Florida State transfer Clint Trickett or even redshirt freshman Ford Childress the question that they will be required to answer is “can any of them adequately replace the record-setting performance of Geno Smith?”

“I feel good about having three quarterbacks that we can put out there to play,” added the coach. “Who’s going to start? I don’t know. Paul or Clint will start. They will both play. Potentially, all three of them will play.

“At this point, they’ve done nothing to warrant not playing quarterback here. It’s going to take some game reps and putting these guys in situations where they have to respoind to really know what we’re working with.”

Saturday’s guests-William and Mary-may also have a lot to do with whether one, two or three quarterbacks take to the field to face a Tribe defense surrendered 24.3 points and 353.3 yards per game in posting a 2-9 mark in 2012.

“You can’t overlook them or anyone else in that conference,” Holgorson said. “Villanova has won a national championship. Delaware was won a national championship. They’ve beaten a lot of I-A teams.

“Last year, William and Mary almost beat Maryland, and the year before that, they beat the University of Virginia. Do we want to be the next ones on that list? I don’t think so.”

The Tribe enters Saturday’s game with a proven quarterback (Michael Graham), as well as its leading rusher (Keith McBride) and receiver (Tre McBride). Add to that a defense that has, since the start of the 2011 season, has allowed less than 300 yards of total offense in nearly a third of its games.

Graham completed 58-of-127 attempts for 776 yards and eight touchdowns with only six interceptions in 2012 while Keith McBride rushed for 689 yards and three scores on 139 attempts. Tre McBride leads a talented corp of receivers, which includes Sean Ballard, with 55 catches for 897 yards and 10 TDs.

“He (Tre McBride) is very athletic,” junior defensive back Ishmael Banks said. “He runs routes very well, and he is pretty physical too. It’s going to be a good matchup.”

Words that could be used to describe every position on a Mountaineer defense which gave up 38.1 points and 473.6 yards per game as WVU struggled to a 7-6 mark a year ago.

“Coach Holgorsen said that our goal is to win one game a week,” sophomore running back Cody Clay said. “Right now, it is this Saturday that we are preparing for. We haven’t watched anything yet on Oklahoma.

“I’m not saying that because that’s what people want to hear. I’m saying that because that’s how we process our season.”

And, with the unknown out-numbering the known on this year’s squad, that’s exactly the right approach the Mountaineers will need to come out with a victory on Saturday against a Tribe team looking to make an early name for itself.

Prediction: WVU’s offense will struggle early, but an improved defense will keep the visitors out of the endzone-WVU 38, W&M 12