Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett (9) overcame two interceptions—with another negated by penalty—to finish 25-of-41 passing for 267 yards and two touchdowns.


FORT WORTH, Texas — Our weekly unit-by-unit analysis on West Virginia football after the Mountaineers beat TCU 30-27 in overtime:

Erratic enough to have lost Saturday’s game, Clint Trickett instead found a way to win it. He threw two interceptions, had a pick-six erased by a fortuitous defensive holding call and saw a potential fourth interception dropped by TCU safety Sam Carter. Those mistakes aside, Trickett threw for 267 yards on 25-of-41 passing, mixing in a couple downfield throws with a hefty dose of short passes.

“I’ve got to take care of the ball better, but we did some things really well,” said Trickett, who tossed short touchdown passes to Charles Sims and Cody Clay in the fourth quarter, when WVU scored 17 points in 5:10 to go up 27-17.

With WVU running the ball effectively, Trickett did some of his best work off play-action. Offensive tempo also seemed better, indicating Trickett has progressed enough with pre-snap communication to appease Dana Holgorsen until the pair can spend an offseason digging into the details.

In the crucial fourth quarter, Trickett hit on 11-of-14 passes for 123 yards.

“We preached all week about pocket presence,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “We didn’t do a great job of it last week (at K-State), when we got a little crazy in the pocket and it cost us a couple times. This week he did a good job of sitting in the pocket and going through his reads.”

TCU had allowed one 100-yard rusher this season—Oklahoma’s Brennan Clay had 111 on Oct. 5—but Charles Sims piled up 154 yards on a season-high 24 carries. His 31-yard touchdown started WVU’s rally from down 17-3, his 13-yard TD pass put the Mountaineers up 27-17, and his 12-yard run in OT would’ve been the clinching score save for a holding flag behind the play.

“He can handle about anything and obviously we’re glad he’s here,” said Holgorsen. “Charles is a special player. There’s no other backs in the country that do as much as he does.”

TCU contained Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood to a combined 18 yards rushing on nine carries, though the pair assisted in the sscreen game with five catches for 21 yards.

West Virginia’s top two deep threats were non-factors. Ronald Carswell was suspended for a violation of team rules and Kevin White held to one catch for 5 yards by one of the nation’s top cornerbacks, Jason Verrett.

Enter Daikiel Shorts with 98 yards on six receptions, which is one more catch than he had in his first four college road games combined. The freshman made back-to-back grabs of 17 and 38 yards on a fourth-period drive when WVU moved from its own 2 into field-goal range. Alas, his only demerit was for a drop on third-and-17 when he had gotten behind zone coverage.

In place of Carswell, Mario Alford contributed three catches for 62 yards. His day was highlighted in the second quarter by a 27-yarder in the middle of a three-play 87-yard touchdown drive, though he continues to be a blocking liability on the edge. He certainly did enough to warrant starting against Texas if Carswell’s suspension lingers.

With five catches for 34 yards, slot receiver Jordan Thompson continues to improve. If only he could continue to grow, considering Trickett has overthrown the 5-foot-7 sophomore in two straight games.

Tight end Cody Clay offered the feel-good moment of the day, scoring his first college touchdown on an 11-yard catch and run that stood up to review.

Against a TCU defense that leads the Big 12 in sacks, WVU allowed two—one of which was a coverage sack by linebacker Jonathan Anderson after Trickett rolled out of the pocket.

But the unit’s point of pride was its run-blocking, where West Virginia ran for 148 yards and averaged 4.1 per carry. (TCU entered the game second in the league allowing 124 yards and 3.2 per rush)

Left guard Quinton Spain pulled and pancaked Anderson on Sims’ 29-yard run in the second quarter. Two plays later when WVU ran the same power play to the opposite side, right guard Mark Glowinski pulled and sealed off Anderson to spring Sims for a 31-yard score. (Spain and Glowinski shared offensive champion honors announced by coaches.)

The group committed two holding penalties, though Spain’s infraction in overtime looked more emphatic because he used his 150-pound advantage to bodyslam safety Geoff Hooker.

The Frogs rarely threatened on the ground (60 yards on 29 rushes) as WVU overwhelmed a patchwork offensive line.

“We didn’t think they could run the ball on us,” defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. “I thought we could basically whip ’em up front.”

Kyle Rose certainly whipped right guard Eric Tausch on TCU’s first snap of overtime, blowing through the A-gap to drop Waymon James for a 6-yard loss. That started a disastrous series in which the Frogs incurred a late-hit flag and wound up facing fourth-and-30, leading to a 62-yard missed field goal.

Along with making seven tackles at defensive end, Rose tipped Casey Pachall’s first pass of the game leading to Nick Kwiatkoski’s interception. The coaches named Rose defensive champion.

Will Clarke made one of WVU’s three sacks and had another knock on Pachall, but a bigger surprise was backup Noble Nwachukwu becoming a pass-rushing force with a sack and two quarterback hits. That was a particularly huge contribution in light of Dontrill Hyman (ankle) missing the game.

After starting 17 of the last 20 games, Spur linebacker Isaiah Bruce was relegated to a backup role as WVU stuck with a nickel package throughout the day. Outside of special teams, he played only handful of snaps, but forced a crucial turnover at the WVU 3 by punching the ball loose from Trevone Boykin (bailing out Trickett from an interception on the previous play).

After his opening-play interception, Kwiatkoski made seven tackles, including two on third-down stops in the second half. He and Jared Barber manned the middle but struggled against play-action, allowing Pachall to make

Barber had six tackles and dove into the goal-line scrum to recover the fumble Bruce forced. With TCU rallying from down 27-17 late in regulation, he barely deflected a third-down pass that still found David Porter for a touchdown.

Buck linebacker Brandon Golson (three tackles) sacked Pachall and popped the QB to force an incompletion. His backup, freshman Marvin Gross, was in on a sack credited to Clarke that led to a Pachall fumble.

With Pachall throwing for 394 yards and two touchdowns, this unit was burned early (leading to a 14-point deficit) and late (when TCU forced OT with a 10-point rally in the final 3:01).

Whereas Texas held Pachall to 13-of-34 passing a week earlier, the big senior hit on 40-of-58 against West Virginia, finding his best success against cornerback Travis Bell and Karl Joseph.

Safety Darwin Cook made 14 tackles, many of them downfield as TCU turned pass-happy, and he also was utilized several times as a second-level blitzer once Patterson decided zone. Though Cook dropped what should have been his fifth interception of the season, he recovered a fourth-period Pachall fumble that WVU converted into a touchdown.

K.J. Dillon made sic tackles and batted away a third-down pass, while freshman Daryl Worley returned from missing the K-State game to post an eight-tackle day.

Cornerback Icky Banks’ first half was marked by a questionable pass interference penalty and being out-maneuvered by Josh Doctson on a 37-yard one-handed catch. But Banks also picked off Pachall in the midst of WVU’s early fourth-quarter surge.

Josh Lambert made all three field-goal tries, including a 42-yarder in the fourth quarter preceding his game-winning 34-yarder in overtime. The redshirt freshman’s string of nine straight conversions leaves him 13-of-17 overall this season and 12-of-13 inside 50 yards.

Nick O’Toole averaged 42.4 yards despite his seventh and final punt resembling a 27-yard shotput, which set up TCU at its 33 with 1:19 left in regulation trailing by 3. He pinned TCU inside the 20 three times but also had a 41-yarder trickle into the end zone, cutting the net in half.

Jarrod Harper, Justin Arndt and Terrell Chestnut were the punt- and kick-coverage standouts. And between fair-catches and touchbacks, WVU’s return units didn’t see many opportunities.

On the heels of three straight losses, West Virginia won’t complain about a ragged win over a sub-.500 team. (“It’s football,” Holgorsen said. “There ain’t nothing easy about it.”)

The return of Pachall from a broken left arm made TCU far more dangerous, but yielding 454 yards and 30 first downs? How good might the Frogs’ passing game have been if second-leading receiver Brandon Carter hadn’t taken a personal absence before the game? That means WVU’s defense remains in a slump, and the win can only mask so much.

Holgorsen might be happy with the 30 points WVU scored—matching the most TCU has allowed in conference play this season—but he also saw too many passes thrown into coverage. Beating the Horned Frogs puts WVU in shape to earn a bowl bid, though several projections have WVU returning to Pinstripe Bowl.

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  • tw eagle

    you're being WAAYYY kind to the safeties . . .it's time for Cook's back up to see a lot of field play . . .he's not returning next year and his play is barely adequate . . .
    Cookie , where'd that monster go - the one that was such a bear against okie & okie st ?

  • ThatGuyOverThere

    The game was on the Radio on 98.3 The Bull out of Ripley....You might catch that in charleston...

    • Mister Man

      In Charleston it's 100.9 FM.

  • Larry

    Hopefully they announce Luck gets the Texas job this week, and then WVU dismantles them Saturday.

    • Big Larry

      For Oliver Luck's sake, hopefully Texas wins and wins big. Since he has done so much for WVU we want him to be happy and a Texas win will make him happy which is all that really matters.

      A Texas win will also make all the Luck loyalists and sympathizers happy seeing how Luck will be the next AD at Texas...

      Luck going out a winner is more important to his sympathizers than it is WVU winning...

      • wvu fan

        Thanks for speaking for all of us that love Luck being here and what he has done for the school and sports programs.

        However, let me correct you, I will never be happy if we lose a game or if we lose Luck. He has been one of the best things to happen to the sports programs.

        • wvrefugee

          You have no idea what you are talking about WVU fan!


    A good win.... We all needed it. Great job to the players and coaches!!!!!

    Let's Gooooooooooooo!!! Mountaineeeeeeers!!!!

  • big tom

    hummmmmm,,, a win is a win...a big W,,, however...

    total defense ranking went from 102nd, to 101st... that spells disaster for any team,,, I see little improvement especially facing a 3-5 team .

    trickett is not our man,, we might not have one but he isn't it... Has Ford healed to the point that he can start and play at 100%? We have to take a look this season, other wise we head into next yr with trickett, and that isn't good...He easily could have lost the game for us. EASILY.Like the guy, but not ready for primetime.
    As weak as TCU is, I don't think we learned much by beating them in OT.We are still one of the bottom feeders.

  • Big Larry

    Allan Taylor,

    You and I went against the Metro News "Panel of Experts" and the odds makers in Vegas (who picked TCU to win by 2 touchdowns) and we both picked WVU to win against TCU.

    The Final score was WVU 30 TCU 27.

    You picked WVU to win by 2... 23-21. My pick was WVU to win by 4... 28-24.

    The week before I predicted K-State would win and score 34 points...They won 35-12.

    The previous week I predicted WVU would lose to Texas Tech 38-27....The final score was Texas Tech 37 WVU 27.

    So...Who will win when Texas comes to town? Texas has been on a roll of late and on paper, Texas should win.

    But games are not played on paper and everyone knows it is difficult to defeat WVU in Morgantown on a Saturday night.

    Who will win? Stay tuned for my prediction...

    • Jon

      WVU 38 .... Tex 24

    • Big Toms Mom

      My prediction for next week will be Big Tom still living in mamas' basement!

    • hailey

      let's rewind your Oklahoma State prediction... get over yourself lil' fellow.

  • ?

    Why was the game on a radio blackout in my area?

    • Public Ed

      With Mr. Luck's new 3rd tier rights deal, its on radio blackout to nearly 1.5 million West Virginians. WVU doesn't care whether you can hear the game or not.....they are getting paid big $$ by a company from out of state

      • Jamie

        I listened to it both on the radio and on my phone. I was in Beckley and Charleston.

        • The bookman

          What station streamed the audio in charleston?

          • The bookman

            That's what I thought as well...was curious if there was a station bucking the rules...must be easy to provide a winning bid while providing an enormously inferior outside Elkins and can't pick up the game...really ridiculous!

          • Cpt Obvious

            No stations are supposed to stream it, per Tier garbage.
            Its a "call in" process now, first in the nation (go WVU!) to avoid the costs of data usage.
            Cost of a call now.

  • Mike H

    Please. Not that awful Pinstripe bowl!

    • Jay

      I can understand this sentiment. However, a Pinstripe Bowl invitation in 2013 would be much different than the 2012 invite. Last year, that bowl game was a huge disappointment. This year, that game would be a pleasant surprise. After the low expectations (and living up to them in many respects) of 2013, I'll take any bowl invitation WVU can muster.

      Go Mountaineers!

      P.S. Beat Texas, Kansas, and Iowa State and we're potentially not going back to NYC. That seems a better approach.

  • David

    Defensive back will not be any better until they look for the ball. Makes no sense to me.

    I still find it interesting that the offense which was said to be so simple as to be learned in three days and just constant repeating during fall practice two years ago has become too complicated for Tricket to understand.

    • Steve Miller

      I was thinking the exact same thing about the offense and our QB's. If it's so simple, then what gives? I suppose it's allot simpler if you can actually throw the ball.

    • PC in CLE

      Your first point is valid - I still think the DB's are unlearning stuff from last year.

      Re your second point - it isn't understanding the offense, it's the communication during the game and recognizing the calls from the sideline, and reading defenses and getting into the proper play.

  • Clark

    Dana gives Sims the ball more than 8x a game and look what happens.

    Who woulda thunk it??

  • Cpt Obvious

    Clint is smart enough to lob into pass interference, since he can't pass.
    I hope O'Toole didnt pop the hammy.
    Glad the D continues to play.
    1W at a time. Let's Gooooo

  • JHT

    I say lets enjoy this win no matter how ugly it was.......remember folks TEXAS is coming to town on saturday night. It could get ugly the other way. I hope that I am wrong, but I just don't see consistancy with this team. I think that they will be forced to beat Kansas ans Iowa State to get to 6-6 record. And, I don't think that is a giveme.

  • Bobby M

    The biggest STOCK is the stock of THE program and that is going DOWN DOWN down! The nationalwide perceptions of the entire WVU program has taken a beating AND we are VIEWED as a national FAILURE!!!!

    Thanks coachs! I dont see ANYTHING good on the future horizon! NOTHING!

    • wvu fan

      I didnt realize you have the pulse of the entire nation and their thoughts of WVU. Reach out to Obama as he might have a job for you.

      Are you talking football program or the sports program?

      Either way, I see many good things on the horizon for both. Just to name some, 1 new great conference, new baseball stadium and 3 new facilities.

      • Bobby M

        Thanks Friend! I do my BEST to keep pulse on all WVU-related sports informations! And to answer your questions I am talking ABOUT the WVU sports program!

        BUT we will dissagree about ONE thing - I dont see hope on the horizons so tell me who YOU see saving US in a WVU uniform???!!! Do you see a Pat WHITE or Slaton waiting to come IN the game??!!? No way! You probably see a bunch of AVERAGES waiting there like the rest of us!

        Keep studying!

  • ThatGuyOverThere

    I saw a photo from the locker room after the game...Happy players and coaches...It is what football is all about. Ugly win but a win regardless.

  • Rick

    We'll take a win anyway we can. Someone had to win...Kudos to Allan for being the lone pick on the game...