MORGANTOWN - West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith certainly has garnered his share of pre-season hype, everything from being the Big 12 Conference's Player of the Year to being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
But his position coach knows that Smith is just one play away from forcing backup Paul Millard into the game, and he doesn't foresee that as a major dilemma.
"I'm comfortable with him if something were to happen to Geno," assistant coach Jake Spavital said. "He is very good at playing in this system. I am confident in his skill set in this offense."
Millard saw action in just four games last season as a freshman, completing seven of 15 passes for 124 yards. He tossed one touchdown, but threw two interceptions.
Millard arrived early at WVU, foregoing his final high school semester in 2011 to enroll for the spring semester at WVU. Spavital sees a lot of the Old West in the Texas native.
"Paul has that gunslinger mentality," the coach said, "which can get him into trouble sometimes."
Spavital said the coaching staff has thrust Millard into several critical situations in practice this month, hoping to see what the sophomore has inside.
"He has shown where he can step up and get the job done for us," Spavital said. "There are times where he is still experiencing some difficulties on the learning curve. He needs to understand he can't be as greedy sometimes, and that it is OK to check down to a receiver."
With Millard winning the back-up role as was expected, the coaching staff plans to red-shirt freshman Ford Childress. Like Millard, Childress enrolled early at WVU last spring.
"(Childress) is at the point were Paul was last season," Spavital said. "This is going to be a big year for him. "
But Spavital said he still wants Childress to prepare this season as if he could go into a game at any time.
"I don't want a kid thinking that he is going to be red-shirted," the coach said. "You don't want him to build a mentality that they aren't going to be in the game. You want them to come to this facility every day with the idea that they are going to be a starter."