Millard Cool Under Pressure
MORGANTOWN – It was Friday when Paul Millard found out he was going to be West Virginia’s starting quarterback opening day. The announcement, Millard says, really didn’t affect the rest of his night, though.
”I found out, then I went home and slept like a baby,” he said. ”I really did.”
That good night of sleep was evident on game day.
Millard was 19 of 25 for 237 yards and a touchdown in West Virginia’s comeback victory against William & Mary on Saturday.
”It meant a lot,” the Texas native said about being named starter. ”I was definitely excited to get out there and be the first guy for the Mountaineers this year.”
He proved it on the first drive.
Millard completed all four of his passes as West Virginia moved down the field in eight plays on its first possession, which was capped by a 11-yard touchdown run by Charles Sims.
The junior picked up right where he left off when the offense returned to the field as he connected on his next four attempts, including a third-and-4 where he found Devonte Mathis down the middle for a 15-yard gain.
Millard was pulled in favor of Clint Trickett in the second quarter after going 9 of 12 for 99 yards in the first.
Trickett, however, proved to be ineffective in two offensive drives and never completed a pass, which prompted coach Dana Holgorsen to go back to Millard, something the quarterback said is difficult to manage.
”You get in more of a rhythm when you’re out there playing,” he said. ”It’s hard to come in cold.”
It must be true as two plays after returning to the field Millard was sacked in addition to fumbling the ball away deep in Mountaineers territory.
The turnover led to a Tribe field goal and put West Virginia in a 17-7 hole.
”We just kept telling guys we’ve got to win the game,” Millard said about the locker room speech at halftime. We did not want to have a loss here at home on opening day. That’s something we didn’t want to do. You just have to get back out there in the fire and keep it going.”
If there was any doubt about the quarterback’s message to the rest of the team, he erased it on the Mountaineers’ second drive of the third quarter.
On a first-and-10 on their 31, Millard found a breaking Ronald Carswell deep down field and connected on a 69-yard touchdown strike.
”We started running the ball effectively and the safeties started moving up,” Millard said. ”They were tired of giving up 6-, 7-, 8-yard gains. When those safeties come up, you’ve just got to attack over the top.”
The play not only tied the score at 17-17, it also swung the momentum in the Mountaineers’ favor and gave Millard a boost in confidence moving forward.
”Yeah for sure,” he said. ”It’s your first (touchdown) of the season. Hopefully there’s a lot more.
”I’m just proud of all the guys. All the running backs, offensive line. Everyone had a good game. We have a lot of work to do, but we can definitely find some positives.”