The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

June 27, 2014

WVU’s Trickett effective QB when healthy

Clint Trickett’s 2013 numbers certainly don’t scream All-Big 12 and maybe not even entrenched starter.

As a junior transfer from Florida State, the Mountain State native threw for 1,605 yards in his first season in Morgantown, but he tossed as many interceptions as touchdowns with seven each.

Trickett was sacked 16 times and completed barely more than 50 percent of his attempts.

His numbers in three of the eight games in which he saw action, though, looked pretty strong.

In his first start, the son of former WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett completed 24 of 50 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he led his Mountaineers to a 30-21 win over No. 11 Oklahoma State.

WVU’s only other Big 12 win, a 30-27 overtime victory over TCU, also was a strong performance for Trickett. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns.

Perhaps the best showing of them all for the former Seminole came in the final game of the season against Iowa State. WVU didn’t get the win — thanks largely to a complete defensive collapse in the second half — but Trickett did complete 21 of 37 passes for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

So what was the difference in those three games?

Simple. Those three contests were the ones where Trickett was the most healthy.

“If you evaluate last year’s tape — which we’ve watched countless times — when he was healthy, he played at a high level,” said WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “If you looked at the two Big 12 games we won, he played well.”

That evaluation was a big reason Dawson and head coach Dana Holgorsen made the decision to pull the trigger this week and go ahead and name Trickett the starter for the Aug. 30 season opener against Alabama in Atlanta, Ga.

“We need leadership, and they look to him anyway,” said Dawson. “We feel like it’s clear in our mind, or we wouldn’t do it. It’s going to give him confidence. When you know you’re the guy, there are no questions about it.

“It’s as much for him as it is for the whole group. It’s hard to be the leader when you’re not the starter. This clears up things with the guys around him and clears up things with him. He can have a clear mind and relax and get better without worrying about trying to win the job every day.”

That, Trickett said, takes a heavy weight off his shoulders.

“It’s huge,” he admitted. “They know who to look to, and I can focus on my game and getting the team better instead of worrying about when (Coach Holgorsen is) going to make the decision.”

Trickett wouldn’t reveal just how healthy his shoulder is after offseason surgery that caused him to miss spring ball, but he’s confident it will be 100 percent by the time the Mountaineers make the trek to The Georgia Dome to take on the Tide.

From there, it will be about avoiding further injury.

“This game is tough enough as it is when you’re healthy,” said Trickett, whose 180-pound frame is smaller than many Division I quarterbacks. “It’s almost impossible when you’re hurt. But injuries are part of the game. You just have to keep playing.

“But the one time I was healthy, we pulled off a pretty good one (with the win over OSU). The rest of the time I wasn’t. It was frustrating, and you wonder what if, but that’s life. You just have to go out and produce.”

Trickett hopes that’s what his final season of college football will be one to remember. He’s seen guys like Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith thrive in Holgorsen’s offense, and he wants to follow in that tradition.

“This offense produces a lot of good quarterbacks,” said Trickett. “I obviously wasn’t one of them last year, but I’d like to be one of them this year. Hopefully I can get better and stay healthy.”

What will constitute a successful season? Twenty touchdowns? Two-thousand yards? A 60 percent completion percentage?

“Wins,” said Trickett without hesitation. “I came to win. If I throw five picks and we win, I’m happy. But if I throw five touchdowns and we lose, I won’t be happy.

“I want to win some games. That’s all I’m about.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

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