By Cam Huffman
So much attention has been paid to what West Virginia University lost from last year’s football team, few have taken the time to analyze just how much the program has gained. Two of the biggest playmakers in this year’s offense might have actually been playing somewhere else in 2012.
It starts with the quarterback position, where many believe Clint Trickett’s experience makes him the favorite to win the ongoing quarterback competition with junior Paul Millard and redshirt-freshman Ford Childress. The Florida State transfer has the experience, having played in 12 games over the last two seasons with the Seminoles — including an impressive start on the road at Clemson in 2011. The result, a 35-30 loss, wasn’t what Trickett had hoped to find, but he threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns in that contest, proving he has the potential to play at a high level in a hostile environment.
With 947 career passing yards and seven touchdowns under his belt, the son of former WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett understands the game day experience, but he’s still learning head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offensive system.
“I am not there,” he said. “I don’t think you are ever there. You always have to get better, and there are always little intricacies you have to figure out. I’m trying to figure that out now.”
Trickett said that the game experience helps, but there are few similarities in the system Holgorsen runs at WVU and the one employed by West Virginia native Jimbo Fisher at FSU.
“It is a completely different style of offense than I am used to,” said Trickett. “I went from a pro-style offense to an air raid, fast-tempo offense. Everything is really different, and there are new guys to adjust to.
“I think coming from where I came from, it definitely helps me being in this offense. This offense is a lot different in terms of how we read and progression wise. (At FSU) it was all coverage base, which it is a little bit here but mainly progression. Having experience in both of those will just help me further down the line.”
Some extra experience in a different league is also what running back Charles Sims is hoping he’ll find in Morgantown. The Houston transfer has rushed for 2,370 career yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons with the Cougars, but he made the decision to spend his final season at WVU instead of entering the NFL draft.
“It was mostly a family decision,” explained the 6-foot, 213-pound Houston, Texas, native. “I wanted to graduate, and that was the most important thing.”
A prior relationship with Dana Holgorsen, who was his offensive coordinator with the Cougars when he ran for 698 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman, made his choice of a new school an easy one.
“That played a big part in my decision, and I am familiar with the offense already,” said Sims, who was picked last month as the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year. “I have basically been running this offense since my freshman year. It is just different terminology you have to learn.”
Both Trickett and Sims have only been in Morgantown a couple of months, but both said they already feel at home.
“I have been here two, maybe a little over three months,” said Trickett, who spent a major part of his youth in Morgantown while his father, who’s now the offensive line coach for the Seminoles, coached under Rich Rodriguez. “It feels like I have been here awhile, and I know all of the guys and am comfortable with them.
“I wanted to come here out of high school, but it didn’t really work out. I didn’t really get recruited, and it was a different offense then. So I went to Florida State. I wanted to come here after the fall, but I didn’t have enough credits and had to go back in the spring. It was a no-brainer, though. I am a West Virginia kid.”
Sims doesn’t have those Mountain State roots, and he’ll have just one season to be a Mountaineer, while Trickett will have two. But the senior also believes he’s made a wise decision.
“I felt comfortable coming here,” he explained. “I sat down with my family and made the decision to come on a visit, and it just felt comfortable.
“I just want to make plays and be put in position to do so. I just want to help the team however I can.”
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.
By Cam Huffman
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