MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Ford Childress has been ailing with a torn pectoral muscle this week, meaning Clint Trickett will start Saturday’s game against No. 11 Oklahoma State, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen revealed Thursday night.
Childress was intercepted twice and threw for only 62 yards during a 37-0 loss at Maryland. Though the redshirt freshman noted soreness in his chest and arm during the game, Holgorsen said the injury didn’t appear problematic until Childress “woke up (Sunday) and could tell something was wrong.”
During two media sessions Monday and Tuesday, Holgorsen did not list the quarterback on the injury report and emphatically reiterated plans to stick with Childress as his starter. That plan apparently changed when Childress continued to feel discomfort and was unable to practice.
“He went out there (Tuesday) and tried to go and he couldn’t go,” Holgorsen said. “Wednesday he tried to go out there and practice and couldn’t do it, and then the same thing happened (Thursday).”
With Childress sidelined, Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson shifted practice reps to Trickett, the Florida State transfer, and junior Paul Millard, who started WVU’s first two games this season.
While Holgorsen’s offenses typically have been hyper-productive, WVU (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) currently stands 108th out of 123 FBS teams in scoring, 109th in third-down conversions and 89th in passing efficiency. The Mountaineers beat William & Mary 24-17 and Georgia State 41-7 but have scored just one touchdown in two games against major-college opponents.
“Offensively, we haven’t been lights out here—so maybe Clint can give us a little bit of a spark that can ignite the offense and do some good things,” Holgorsen said. “We’ll put him out there and see what he does.”
Trickett left Florida State last spring after it became apparent redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the frontrunner for the starting job. Thanks to graduating in three years, Trickett came to WVU with two years of eligibility remaining.
Though he and Millard were listed a co-starters exiting preseason camp, Trickett appeared in only two series against William & Mary, going 0-for-2 passing as WVU posted back-to-back three-and-outs. During a 16-7 loss at Oklahoma in Week 2, Holgorsen contemplated switching to Trickett but ultimately stuck with Millard based on what he described as communication advantages.
Two weeks further along, Trickett is slated to become WVU’s third starting quarterback of the young season because the offense “is starting to make more sense to him,” Holgorsen said.
Trickett figures to have a difficult indoctrination with Oklahoma State coming into Morgantown as 21-point favorites.
“Clint may run with it and take it and we may win a big game here this weekend—we’re counting on it,” Holgorsen said. “If that happens, it’s going to put him in position to be our quarterback.”
The muscle injury isn’t considered season-ending for Childress, who despite committing three turnovers and completing only one pass to a wide receiver at Maryland, was Holgorsen’s initial choice to start a third consecutive game. With this week’s rest, Childress could return to the lineup as soon as next week’s game at Baylor.
“Ford obviously didn’t have a good game, but (the quarterback change) was nothing to do with what Ford did,” Holgorsen said. “He’s young and we knew there were going to be some bumps in the road.
“It’s a fluid situation. We may end up playing all three of them the rest of the year—I don’t know how it’s going to work out. We’ll see how (Trickett) does and then next week we’ll re-evaluate.”