MORGANTOWN - Three weeks after saying he has never used a two-quarterback system and does not plan on doing so this season, Dana Holgorsen announced this week both Clint Trickett and Paul Millard will see playing time when West Virginia opens its season against William and Mary Saturday.
''We don't live in a perfect world,'' the Mountaineers coach said. ''Would I rather have a three-year starter returning at quarterback? Yeah. What we're dealing with right now is the same as what 30-50 other schools are dealing with.''
Millard didn't seem opposed to the idea of starting two signal callers Tuesday.
''It has been working so far throughout camp,'' the 6-foot-2, 219-pound junior said. ''We split reps the majority of camp, while offensively we were still getting better. I think things will work out.
''Whoever they put into the game is going to have to perform. That's what I'm here to do.''
Trickett, a 6-3 Florida State transfer who joined the Mountaineers in May, says he knew coming in nothing was promised to him and he'd have to fight to be the one to lead West Virginia's offense.
''It's competition; it's Division I football, so you're going to have to battle,'' Trickett said. ''I really don't look at it like I'm battling against the other quarterbacks, I'm battling against the defense.
''I've been through almost 20 practices. It's a lot of practice, but not really a lot when you're learning a new offense. I'm learning every day.''
So is Millard, a reason why Holgorsen and the rest of the offensive staff is having trouble distinguishing a clear-cut starter.
''Neither one of those guys have proven to us they don't deserve an opportunity,'' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson said. ''That's why we're in the situation we're in. At the end of the day, it's going to be who can win with this group. Who can lead this group to victory. And we're going to find out.''
If you ask anyone in Morgantown about how the Mountaineers defense will be different this year than from last year, you'll get the same answer again and again - this year's group has one more year of experience.
Well that may be true - West Virginia returns 24 defensive lettermen compared to 17 last year - does experience equal improvement?
''I've been very pleased with where we are,'' first-year defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. ''I think the kids have a real good grasp of where we're headed. They understand the concepts of the schemes. This week I could definitely tell there was a difference getting ready for the first game as far as their focus and intensity.''
Buie Gets Redshirt
West Virginia's rushing leader from a season ago, Andrew Buie, will redshirt his junior season, according to Holgorsen.
Buie led the Mountaineers with 851 rushing yards, good enough for ninth in the Big 12. The 5-9, 190-pound Florida native played a key role in West Virginia's 48-45 victory against Texas as he rushed for career-high 207 yards and scored two touchdowns.
''He's got to develop mentally and physically,'' Holgorsen said of Buie. ''I fully expect him to be ready in the spring.''