MORGANTOWN-Perhaps the most underrated statistic released by the Big 12 Conference this week surrounds the fact that the 10-team league has seen 19 different quarterbacks start games this season-six of those freshmen-and only two teams (Baylor and KSU) have used the same starter throughout the season.
One team that has suffered the most is West Virginia (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) as the Mountaineers have used three different signal-callers under center with varied levels of success and failure.
"The guys out there have given great effort all year," junior quarterback Paul Millard said. "We know we have guys who can make plays. It is just a matter of going out there and doing it. Hopefully, this Saturday we can get a win and some guys can make some plays."
That was not the case during the Mountaineers last contest, a 31-19 loss at Kansas-that school's first Big 12 win in 28 tries.
"It (getting a win) is important," Millard continued. "We wanted to send those seniors to a bowl game, and we came up short as a team. This is our last chance to send them out right with a win. I know all of those guys have worked hard and have done a lot for this program, so we want to get them a win."
But, to accomplish that feat, the old gold and blue will have to contend with an Iowa State (2-9, 1-7 Big 12) team that is coming off of a 34-0 whitewashing of the same Kansas team that throttled the Mountaineers two weeks ago.
Iowa State (2-9,
1-7 Big 12)
at West Virginia
4 p.m. Saturday
Television: Fox Sports 1
"They (Iowa State) are going to play hard," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "Regardless of what the rest of their season has been like, they're going to go out there and play hard. It's impressive to what those kids. They were close to winning a lot of games this year, and they never got sidetracked.
"They come out every week and play hard. For the most part, those kids are tough kids with a lot of pride and are coached well."
Win or lose, WVU will finish with its first losing mark since 2001 as well as end a streak of 11 straight bowl games, a fact that hasn't escaped the coaching staff.
"Well, you look at our schedule and you see four wins-that could easily be eight wins," Dawson said. "But, it could also easily be two wins. We just have to be more consistent and have to be able to finish. We went through three of four games where we were winning in the fourth quarter, but didn't finish.
"Overall, just the consistency of offense, defense and special teams has to improve."
One player who has displayed the most consistency this season is former-University of Houston standout Charles Sims. One of 14 seniors who will be playing their last game in the old gold and blue, Sims has rushed for 946 yards and nine touchdowns on 184 carries and could become the first Mountaineer since Noel Devine to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau.
"Charles (Sims) is a great player," freshman wide receiver Daikiel Shorts said. "He works very hard and is very humble. It's just a good person to look up to and to try to watch him so you know what to do when you get at that level."
Sims was one of the few bright spots in the loss to the Jayhawks, rushing for 99 yards on 16 carries and scoring the Mountaineers' first touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Millard, who was 23-of-42 through the air for 242 yards, but also threw two costly second half interceptions.
"I'm the first to say that we haven't had a winning offensive performance this season," head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "That's all on me. All the dynamics combined haven't completed a winning effort. That's something that we will get addressed in the offseason. Just point the fingers at me. We know the guys are trying hard."
The third-year coach also knows that he will without one of his starting quarterbacks-Ford Childress-a second, Clint Trickett, is coming off of a concussion suffered during the overtime loss to Texas, and the third, Millard, has had more ups and downs that a roller coaster this season.
"It (the starting quarterback) won't be Ford (Childress)," the head coach explained. "He's just not ready. We're just going to let him sit there and use him as we need to. We are repping the other two guys (Millard and Trickett) right now.
"They're taking 50 percent of the reps. They're not a whole lot different than they were two weeks ago. They've both done well. They're trying hard and practicing well. They're competing. They want to get better. I feel like we can win with either one.
"Trickett has proven he can win some Big 12 games. Millard is working on the scheme and what we want him to do, and he's progressing."
Both have weapons as Sims and Shorts both have 43 catches on the season for 371 and 470 yards, repectively. Junior college transfer Kevin White has 33 catches for 480 yards and four touchdowns and Jordan Thompson has hauled in 21 passes for 165 yards.
"I wouldn't say I'm ready for it to be over," Shorts said. "I'm not rushing anything. I'm just taking it day-by-day, but I'm definitely ready for this offseason and to put in work with the guys."