West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen Is Confident with Backup QB

West Virginia goes into its Liberty Bowl matchup on Monday against former Big 12 school Texas A&M without the services of its starting senior quarterback, Clint Trickett. Instead, the Mountaineers will go with sophomore backup Skyler Howard. Despite losing his season-long offensive leader, head coach Dana Holgorsen is confident that his No. 2 signal caller can get the job done.

Nov 29, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Skyler Howard (3) looks to pass while Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya (5) defends his receiver at Jack Trice Stadium. The Mountaineers beat the Cyclones 37 – 24. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what Holgorsen had to say to news reporters on Friday about the West Virginia quarterback situation heading into its first bowl game as a member of the Big 12:

The last month has been like night and day, Holgorsen said, in terms of Howard’s preparation and understanding of the offense as he prepares himself for the start against Texas A&M. “Before we put him in against Kansas State, I was concerned,” the West Virginia head coach said.

“We didn’t know how he (Howard) would react, and he handled it well. I think that gave him a bunch of confidence to where he got better in the Iowa State game (a 37-24 West Virginia victory), and I’ve seen considerable improvement here in the last four weeks.

“The improvement that he’s made in the last two months, I’ve never seen it with a quarterback before, not as a true sophomore.”

Howard’s stats coming into his Liberty Bowl start are three games in 2014 and one start (the regular-season finale against Iowa State). He has completed 36 of 65 passes for 483 yards and five touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception and averages 161 passing yards per game.

On Monday, the sophomore Mountaineer quarterback will get a chance to add to those statistics and stake his claim on the starting role in 2015.