The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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September 26, 2013

Is Trickett the ticket? WVU gives QB a shot

Paul Millard led West Virginia to a season-opening win over William & Mary, but he couldn’t get the offense going in a loss to Oklahoma the next week.

Ford Childress looked strong in the Mountaineers’ blowout win over Georgia State, but he was completely overmatched in a 37-0 blowout loss to Maryland.

Now it’s Clint Trickett’s turn.

WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen announced on his radio show Thursday night that the junior transfer from Florida State will get the nod Saturday at home against No. 11 Oklahoma State, after Childress was ruled out because of a chest injury suffered in the loss to the Terrapins last weekend.

Trickett has gotten the call off the bench in a big game before. As a freshman at FSU in 2010, the son of former WVU and current FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett was called on to start on the road at Clemson. His Seminoles fell short, losing 35-30, but Trickett performed like a veteran, completing 24 of 38 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns.

Trickett has taken just six snaps this season, all in the opener against Georgia State. He was in on just two series in the first half and failed to complete either of the two passes he attempted. He also took a 4-yard sack.

Millard, also a junior, completed 40 of 66 passes for 455 yards and a touchdown during his two starts. He also threw an interception.

Childress, a redshirt freshman, completed 36 of 63 passes for 421 yards. He threw three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Holgorsen said Trickett’s play in practice, and his developing knowledge of the WVU offense, gave him the edge over Millard. He said Childress could be in the mix after a week off, depending on what happens Saturday.

“Clint may take it and run with it,” said Holgorsen. “That’s what we’re expecting. But you have to watch to see how these things play out.”

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Just how far is it from Stillwater, Okla., to Morgantown, W.Va.?

It depends on who you ask.

Put a search into MapQuest, and it will tell you the two cities are separated by a little more than 1,000 miles. Ask Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy, and he might tell you the two cities might as well be on different planets.

Gundy, who will bring his Cowboys (3-0) to Mountaineer Field Saturday at noon for an ESPN matchup with West Virginia (2-2), didn’t sound happy this week when discussing his team’s first Big 12 trip to Morgantown.

“It’s a difficult road trip for us,” said the coach, now 70-35 in his ninth season at OSU. “You’re talking about an (almost three hour) flight over. You land in Pittsburgh, and you’re 45 minutes away from the hotel and then an hour on game day. So there are some challenges, but that’s the hand that we’ve been dealt. Everybody in our league that has to travel over there has to deal with those situations.”

Those comments came Monday, during the Big 12 conference call, but later in the week in his meeting with the OSU media, Gundy continued to discuss the problems of the trip.

“I think most people in this part of the country have a hard time with it,” he said. “But I think it’s the future. I think there will be some conferences come together and consolidate even more in the future. I don’t know that anybody can predict when and where, but with television money and the direction we’re going, I would say it could be the future.”

At least Gundy will see a familiar face when his team completes the trek to the Mountain State. WVU’s Holgorsen served as Gundy’s offensive coordinator in 2010 before coming to West Virginia. Holgorsen installed the offense that’s still in place at OSU.

While the Cowboys have continued to put up record-breaking numbers, the Mountaineer offense has been anything but powerful through the early part of the 2013 season, scoring just seven points in two games against schools from so-called power conferences.

“I think he’ll be fine,” said Gundy when asked to evaluate what’s happening with his former assistant. “They’re a long way away from us, so we don’t get much on them. I don’t really pay much attention to what’s going on outside of our program. But, without speaking for him, I think it’s a learning process most of us go through in being a head coach.”

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Holgorsen’s connections to OSU also include the Cowboys starting quarterback, J.W. Walsh, whom Holgorsen played a huge part in recruiting to come to Stillwater, Okla., to play his college football.

“He’s a winner,” said Holgorsen of the 6-foot-2 sophomore, who has thrown for 642 yards and five touchdowns this season. “He falls in the long line of Texas high school coaches’ kids. His dad is the head coach at Denton-Guyer and has won a lot of football games there. He’s won before J.W. was their quarterback, and he’s won since J.W. has left.

“Texas high school football is good. Being a coaches’ kid, watching him win games with the intangibles he has, you can see that on the sidelines and in practice. You can take those guys and make their skills better, and obviously they have.”

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The 2013-14 WVU basketball season’s official beginning — although the team will begin practice on Monday — will be Oct. 18 when head coach Bob Huggins’ squad holds the Gold-Blue Debut at the WVU Coliseum at 7:30 p.m.

The event, which is free to the public and will take place the night before the Mountaineers’ home football game with Texas Tech, will feature a 40 minute game between a WVU Gold and a WVU Blue team. It will also include the introduction of the players, a speech from Huggins and an autograph session after the scrimmage. There will be highlight videos and performances by the Mountaineer pep band, cheerleaders and dance team.

— E-mail: chuffman

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