MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Further evidence of Clint Trickett’s elusiveness came when the West Virginia quarterback popped into, and quickly out of, the team’s interview room Tuesday night.
No camera time for Trickett, no media inquisition about the prognosis for his tender right shoulder and whether it will be sound enough for Saturday night’s game in Waco against No. 17 Baylor.
Though coaches held Trickett out of the week’s only media session, they did not hold him out of Tuesday’s practice. At least that was the report from offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, whose comments must henceforth carry a disclaimer after he playfully misled reporters about the health of Ford Childress last week. (When the topic turns to quarterback injuries, the WVU media has adopted an X-Files mantra of “trust no one.”)
According to the oh-so-cagey Dawson, Trickett split practice reps with Paul Millard, while Childress (torn pectoral muscle) was a no-go Tuesday.
“Ford can’t throw,” Dawson said. “So we’ve got one healthy (quarterback), and one we’ll see by the end of the week.”
After steering West Virginia’s 30-21 upset of No. 11 Oklahoma State, Trickett warrants being the starter against Baylor, provided his throwing shoulder regains full strength and range of motion. Presumably he suffered no structural damage to the arm, considering how he re-entered the OSU game after being pancaked and showed adequate zip on eight subsequent passes. The question is whether pain tolerance will allow him to practice sufficiently and recover throughout the week.
“The main thing is how he feels on Thursday and Friday,” Dawson said.
If Trickett isn’t cleared to play, Millard would be WVU’s last scholarship quarterback standing. After that?
“It’s me,” Dawson joked. “I’ve got a pretty good arm. I can throw a little bit.”
The main hurdle for Trickett throughout fall camp was picking up the sideline communications from Dana Holgorsen and implementing them to his teammates at the tempo Holgorsen desires. Even as the Mountaineers entered Week 6, the coach said obstacles persist, leaving Trickett “a long way from being able to operate the offense the way I want him to.”
On the heels of a 24-of-50 passing performance, Trickett survived with playmaking reactions that overcame his operational inefficiencies.
“That’s what he has to improve on—that’s on him,” Holgorsen said. “He should be better at that right now. There were times in the game when I signaled a play to him, and he looked at me like I was from outer space. That’s when I threw my fits.
“It’s just frustrating, and it’s like communicating with someone who speaks a different language. The language that he learned at Florida State is different from the language we teach here, obviously. It’s taken him some time.”
Holgorsen made a somewhat comical attempt at diagnosing Childress’s chest injury.
“Ford’s injury is not ripped from the bone. If it’s ripped from the bone then they can do surgery or something. I’m not a doctor, I don’t know. It’s not going to heal itself—it’s going to be ripped forever. The soreness goes away and you just play through it. It sounds worse than it is. It really just has to heal, and then he will be fine.”
Though the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Childress is among the larger quarterbacks to play under Holgorsen, he’s also the first to miss a start due to injury.
“I told him that last week he was the first,” Holgorsen said. “Big and strong my butt.”