QB race, defense shaping up at WVU

West Virginia is only a handful of practices into its spring workouts, and thus far, there hasn't been much separation between quarterbacks Ford Childress and Paul Millard, who are competing to replace Geno Smith. It doesn't sound like incoming talents Logan Moore and Chavas Rawlins have found their way into the competition, either.

"They are letting Ford and I go at it right now," Millard told reporters after Tuesday's practice. We are taking half and half with the reps, so it is all 50/50 right now, and we are just going out and trying to get better each and every day."

The race certainly felt like a 50/50 shot heading into practice, so it's good to see the reps are being split accordingly. It's a little early to expect much separation, but that will come with scrimmages throughout spring.

Ultimately, West Virginia's offense will be fine. The focus this spring has been on a defense playing under new leadership in Keith Patterson, who took over play-calling duties from Joe DeForest after the Mountaineers finished last in the Big 12 in scoring defense.

"With coach Patterson, we got to touch on it during the bowl game. He gave us an insight of what it is going to be and what we have to look forward to. Now that we have seen it, he is just an old-fashioned coach that wants you to run to the ball and give effort and everything else will take care of itself," cornerback Brodrick Jenkins said.

Plenty has been written and said about West Virginia's struggling defense, which gave up more than 43 points a game in conference play and surrendered 78 plays longer than 20 yards in 2012, both worst in the league. The Mountaineers need help to see major improvement from those numbers, but they're apparently using some of that criticism as fuel.

"Last summer before camp, (defensive line) coach (Erik) Slaughter was telling us how the media was saying that the D-line was going to be the worst and it is going to be our fault that we lose every game. We took it personally, to be honest. Coach Slaughter said it to us every day -- 'you guys are the worst and you want to be first.' That is what they are preaching now," defensive lineman Shaq Rowell said. "Our defense as a total was eighth in the Big 12. I thought we were 10th with the way we played. It was discouraging to see how we played last year. This year we are just working hard and training hard for spring ball, and we are just looking forward to better things this year."