First response: Why???
Second response: Well this is not necessarily a bad idea. Here's why:
1. Paulus needs experience and has too much potential to simply toss aside
The general consensus is that Mike Paulus is chock full of potential but obviously not quite ready. How do you get him ready? Playing time in a controlled manner and in such a way that does not threaten the possibility of winning the game. Paulus has talent but still has not acclimated to playing at the college level. I am speculating Davis would like to use this situation to give him every chance to succeed. It would be wholly unfair to shut him down based on a very limited scope of playing time.
2. What Goes On In Practice, Stays In Practice
There is a reason Paulus got to start over Cam Sexton and was #2 on the depth chart when TJ Yates went out. Whatever happens in practice has established a pecking order among the QBs and Sexton was #3 in that order. I suppose we ought to ask why Sexton has not proven himself to be as good as he was Saturday during practice but I just don't think it matters. Kudos to Sexton for stepping up(finally) but what happens in practice is important to the coaches' decision making process. Paulus has done enough in that realm to earn himself at least that much...for now. If he does not start delivering on the field, that opportunity will be removed.
3. Cam Sexton Only Had One Good Game
By no means do I register this decision as a signal that Davis is not convinced Sexton came keep it up. I am also not saying Sexton's performance was a fluke. However, it was only one game. For all we know it could have been a fluke or for all we know this is going to be a full blown QB controversy come November when Yates comes back. The truth is we still are not sure which Cam Sexton will show up against UConn and he probably needs at least two more good games to convince most people he has truly improved. In this respecting keeping Paulus on the table, at least when discussing it with the media, is pretty smart. It signals that Davis is still working through this and wants to afford Paulus another chance, most likely based on the kind of information not known to the public in general.
4. You Can Never Have Too Many Good QBs
Remember last week when were trying to grapple with the idea that Yates was out, Paulus was too green and Sexton reminded us why we fired the last guy? Yeah. The truth is, you need your backups to be ready. Sometimes it is not always conducive to give them playing time due to the tightness of games but in this case Davis seems to be willing to risk it to give Paulus another shot. There is nothing wrong with having a stable full of good QBs you can use if disaster strikes. Sexton was good and if Paulus can be good too, in my mind that makes for a better situation overall, as long as the players themselves are fine with it.
5. The Big Picture
College head coaches are vested with the task of winning the next game, going to a bowl and build long term program success. Fans tend to focus most on the first two and regard the last one only when it appears it is not happening. Butch Davis, like any successful head coach, appears to operate with all three in mind which means certain decisions that are made on the game level might be intended to have an effect on the upper two levels. The decision to play Paulus, even after Sexton was successful last week and Paulus unimpressive in two stints strikes me as that type of decision. As stated above the season might hinge on Paulus being able to fill in for Sexton if he is hurt or for Sexton if he simply struggles. The program needs a steady stream of solid QBs. College Football 101 dictates that if you have a bad QB, your season is in jeopardy. So it might seem a little odd that Davis is opting to continue playing Paulus in this game because Paulus will be needed two years from now but ask yourself which is better. Paulus gaining experience and confidence now in a situation like this or waiting for Yates to walk out the door?
At any rate, it will be interesting to see how it pans out for both Paulus and Sexton...and Yates should these guys play well.