MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Among the first-year limitations affecting West Virginia transfer quarterback Clint Trickett is the inability to change plays at the line.
With four starts behind him and four more potentially ahead, Trickett apparently won’t be gaining traction in that area until the offseason.
“That isn’t going to happen this year,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I’ve come to terms with that.”
Because Trickett transferred from Florida State in late May and missed out on WVU’s spring practice, he entered preseason camp trailing returnees Paul Millard and Ford Childress. Both of those quarterbacks started two games before Trickett took over in Week 5, overcoming communication struggles with Holgorsen to lead the Mountaineers to a 30-21 upset of Oklahoma State.
Three straight losses later, some of the communication kinks have been ironed out, but Holgorsen said working on audibles and play-checks is “100 percent for the offseason,” because the time-crunch of game-week preparations doesn’t afford Trickett time to split focus.
“He needs to look at cut-ups from an entire year without the pressure of trying to prepare for an opponent,” Holgorsen said. “He needs to sit in a room and study it, then go outside and work on that for a couple months. He’s going to need that downtime and offseason time in order to grasp what we are asking of him, which isn’t surprising.”
Trickett’s pre-snap inflexibility can hamstring West Virginia in situations where the defensive alignment beckons a change. Witness the compliments coaches showered upon Geno Smith last season for checking into and out of running plays at the line.
But as offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson reminded: “Geno probably didn’t (audible) the first year as a much as he did it the second year—I think that’s one thing you’ve got to keep in mind.”
Even with no audibles at Trickett’s disposal, Dawson said the offense can hum if WVU makes routine plays with consistency. With West Virginia ranking 94th nationally in scoring at 22.9 points per game, he said the most pressing emphasis for Trickett is cycling through live-play progressions by “learning to trust your reads, trust your eyes.”
Complicating Trickett’s development was the need to unlearn the FSU offensive system he studied for three seasons. That deprogramming has proven difficult, said Trickett,who during film study still refers to some plays by Seminoles terminology.
“I’m a first-year quarterback in the system, so struggles like that are going to happen,” said Trickett. “I’m excited for the spring, to get a full year under it.”