As we approach another football season, some fans may view the Mountaineers as having another questionable and unknown quarterback situation. But, we do know that Skyler Howard will be the starter and William Crest Jr. will be the backup.
Last season Howard played in four games, starting two, including the bowl game against the Texas A&M Aggies. He finished the bowl game with 346 yards passing, and three touchdowns, along with 33 yards rushing. The game ended in a loss, but the his play will be a stepping stone to what will be a great season for Howard in his first year as the man for the Mountaineers.
Howard displays an insane amount of confidence when he’s out on the field, and that shows with a lot of the decisions he makes while playing. I believe that it will translate into a huge year for him offensively, as the offense will go relatively unknown due to the high expectations of the defense, along with the losses of Clint Trickett, Kevin White and Mario Alford.
With Howard at the helm, his legs will bring a different dimension to the offense that was lacking under guys like Trickett, Paul Millard, and Ford Childress, with the last two being horrific under achievers at WVU.
The Mountaineers were struggling towards the end of last season, and were able to keep themselves afloat due to mostly the play of Howard reviving what seemed like a team dead in the water after the loss to Texas.
During his last two starts at the end of the year, Howard kept the team competitive beating Iowa State on the road, and battling with Texas A&M all the way down to the wire in a game that the Mountaineers lost 45-37.
Howard will be the force that makes the team go. Early on, the offense will lean on players like Wendell Smallwood, Rushel Shell, Donte Thomas-Williams and Shelton Gibson but eventually Howard will assume the role as the leader of the offense and takeover the playmaking duties from those players as the team gets deeper into conference play.
With his ability to improvise and run around Howard will be able to add a dimension to the offense like a read option or even designed runs that haven’t been implemented since Geno Smith was the quarterback in 2012-13.
Howard has the ability to adjust on the fly and make good decisions when playing. We’ve seen how quickly he can pick things up, based on how well he did when thrusted into the starter’s role after Clint Trickett went down at the end of last season.
Howard has enough arm strength to succeed in an offense like Dana Holgorsen’s that is mostly predicated on getting the ball out quickly and letting the playmakers on the outside do all the work. This is an offense that created stars like Zac Robinson, Brandon Weeden, Geno Smith, Clint Trickett and others before them.
This is an offense that is suited to take advantage of Howard’s strengths, which are quick decision making, and his ability to improvise with his legs. Howard will be another quarterback that thrives in the Dana Holgorsen offense, and will be a player that will generate a lot of buzz come the end of the 2015-16 WVU football season. Given how good the defense will be, If Howard is able to take the step into playmaker early on in the season, there’s no reason WVU can’t compete with the top teams in the conference.
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