We’re going to give this the side eye for now for two reasons:
1) Dana Holgorsen said something similar a week ago, and later admitted he was intentionally (and understandably) deceptive.
2) We’re 27 days (or 31) away from whatever bowl game West Virginia will play.
Still, Holgorsen said it, so we’ll stand on it for the time being. Skyler Howard is about to become the backup again because though Clint Trickett didn’t play Saturday, he was never not the the starting quarterback.
“Clint’s still our quarterback,” he said. “He’s done a bunch of great things all season long and we anticipate Clint being cleared and ready for the bowl game.”
I thought last week Dana knew Clint was out and Howard was in and that he was doing Clint a solid by stating clearly he was the quarterback unless a doctor wouldn’t clear him. It made Trickett look better, which he deserved more than what would have come from the coach saying, “Dunno. We’ll make a decision before kickoff.” That would have been just as competitively devious, but less helpful for a player who got hit in the head making a tackle.
It would seem unusual to me if Dana knew right now that Clint was out for the bowl, but I don’t think it’s clear that Clint will be cleared, either. So the line is the line: Trickett is the starter because he’s always been the starter.
If that’s the eventuality, if Trickett does start against whatever SEC (or Pac-12) team the Mountaineers play and Howard is on the sideline and isn’t involved at all because that’s not something WVU likes to do, imagine that. He’s had a taste. He’s had some fun. The offense has 54 points in just shy of six full quarters with him. He’s 10-1 as a college starter.
“I’m on this team to be on this team,” Howard said. “I’m going to play my role, whatever that is, so whether I’m the backup or the starter, whatever they decide, I’m going to be that guy. I’ll be the best backup we have. I’ll be the best starter we have. Whichever one of those they choose, I’m going to be the best we have.”
I’m not sure that’s a line as much as it is a personality trait. I was curious about the helmet scar/scab he has above his nose and between his eyes. You see defensive players and offensive linemen and fullbacks with those because of constant collisions. Howard’s a quarterback who’s had it a while.
But then I was steered off that road rather quickly.
Howard’s phone was dead after the game. He said he’d have to wait until he got home to charge it and check his messages and get back to the many people who reached out to him Saturday. I don’t want to make a mountain out of that … but do you know how many players would not stand for that? Do you know how many would have carefully thought that out beforehand to make sure they had power after the game?
They call and text their parents and their siblings and their significant others and their kids. They spend a lot of time before and after games just retweeting things people say about them, or at the very least going through those mentions. I’m not knocking those players. It’s 2014. I know that. It’s the way things are.
But Howard, perhaps as the outcome of a rookie mistake for a lake of foresight, was an exception.
And then I checked out his Twitter timeline Sunday. Four tweets after the game. Four.
— WVU (@StrictlyWVU) November 30, 2014
— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) November 29, 2014
If size mattered the elephant would be the king of the jungle it’s about heart I’m lion hearted
— Dayron Wilson (@Dayday_cheadat) November 30, 2014
A WIN is the only stat that matters at the end of the day pic.twitter.com/JjqhAIz3zk
— Skyler Howard (@SkylerDonHoward) November 30, 2014
The first is a graphic someone created with a quote Howard said to us after the game. It’s a pretty perfect encapsulation of the day and the moment. The second is a tip of the helmet to the defense. The guy just threw three touchdowns and he’s lighting up teammates who despise touchdown passes. The third is something similarly undersized linebacker-turned-safety and fellow juco-to-WVU Dayron Wilson shared with his followers that Howard rather liked. The fourth … well, that now seems like Howard.
There were pages and pages and pages and pages — just a lot of pages — of Howard mentions on Twitter during and after the game. The vast majority were flattering. He picked one of them to RT and dismissed the rest. Maybe we don’t know what to believe yet, but I’m inclined to believe he won’t be a problem and won’t be bitter.