Arms Race

MORGANTOWN – Who will be West Virginia’s starting quarterback this season is one of many questions that will be answered over the next month as fall camp officially begins today.

The Mountaineers will be looking for a new quarterback for the first time in three years after the departure of record-setter Geno Smith, who is now battling for a starting job with the New York Jets.

Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress will challenge for the starting nod. Millard saw limited action last season, while Trickett had starting experience with the Seminoles before deciding to transfer to WVU in the offseason.

“Who our guy is going to be? I don’t know,” third-year Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen said of the quarterback race.

“We’ve got Clint Trickett coming in with probably as much experience in the college game as anybody in the Big 12, just because he’s been a starter in some big games.

“But he’s got to come in and beat an experience Paul Millard out, who has taken more reps than anybody on our campus. And then you’ve got Ford Childress, who’s going to continue to get better and better. He may have more potential than any of the other guys.”

The offense also must replace receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, both drafted by the St. Louis Rams. The duo combined for nearly 3,000 yards of offensive production in 2012.

Holgorsen, however, said he’s looking forward to seeing how that unit performs during the preseason.

“It gets me excited, being able to get out there and face the challenge of being able to take guys, coach them and develop them,” he said.

Sophomore Jordan Thompson returns with experience and will be joined by the likes of JUCO transfers Kevin White and Mario Alford, true freshman Shelton Gibson, redshirt sophomore K.J. Myers, junior Connor Arlia, a former Madonna standout, and transfer Ronald Carswell.

The running back position should be in good hands with the return of Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, along with newcomers Dreamius Smith and Houston transfer Charles Sims.

Junior left tackle Quinton Spain will anchor the offensive line, which must replace four starters.

Keith Patterson will be in charge of turning around a defense that struggled throughout 2012.

“The communication has been the biggest improvement probably,” Holgorsen said. “(Patterson) has been a (defensive coordinator) before. He’s got a bunch of experience calling plays in this specific defense we want to run, and I think the results will show.”

Special teams will have two new faces as Josh Lambert is expected to handle the place-kicking duties after the graduation of Tyler Bitancourt, and junior college transfer Nick O’Toole will step in at punter.

West Virginia will open the season Aug. 31 at home against William &?Mary. The Mountaineers will then open Big 12 Conference play the following week at Oklahoma.