MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Foremost during this, his final college season, Clint Trickett says he wants “to win some games,” and the only way West Virginia is going to win any number of note is with Trickett playing quarterback.
So this week coach Dana Holgorsen sends out an oddly-timed statement naming Trickett as the 2014 starter, and two days later, the senior quarterback with the Robin Thicke hairdo fields questions—some of them, at least—as to how and why the decision came down in late June.
“I think Coach was just happy that when I was in the weight room I was doing what I was doing before,” said Trickett.
The public proclamation denied us the faux-mystery of fall-camp competition, because as West Virginia’s quarterbacking is currently constituted, there is no competition. Paul Millard can come out of the bullpen in a pinch, but he’s not a season-long answer. Junior-college transfer Skyler Howard suffered through a brutal spring. And even if William Crest sets the field afire in August, he needs seasoning—and ideally, a season—to transition from Dunbar to D-I.
Heck, Trickett needed a full season of acclimation despite being a fourth-year junior.
“This offense produces a lot of good quarterbacks,” he said. “I obviously wasn’t one of them last year.”
Neither his 52 percent completion rate or his 7-to-7 touchdown-to-interception output were reminiscent of previous Holgorsen QBs, but Trickett was on the field for both of West Virginia’s Big 12 victories in 2013. One of those was, in retrospect, a hellacious ambush of an Oklahoma State team that came within 19 seconds of winning the league. That also turned out to be the only game in which Trickett was healthy, and even then he was healthy for only about three quarters.
Though he returned from a second-half shoulder sprain to lead a 30-21 victory, Trickett wasn’t right the rest of the season. He learned in December that he’d been playing with a torn labrum.
“Shoot, the one time I was healthy, we pulled off a pretty good one,” he said. “So you wonder what-if, but that’s life, and if you wonder what-if on a lot of things you’re not going to get anywhere.”
While Holgorsen contends Trickett is completely recovered from offseason surgery that shelved him for spring practice, the quarterback remained evasive Thursday night about his current arm strength. He also declined to discuss any details regarding his summer throwing routine.
What about offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson’s take on pegging a starter before Independence Day?
“If you evaluate last year’s tape—which we’ve watched countless times—when he was healthy he played at a high level,” he said.
“We feel like its clear-cut in our minds or we wouldn’t (announce a starter). When you know you’re the guy, and you’ve got the coaching staff clearly behind you, it changes your demeanor and your attitude. It’s only going to help him and help the unit in the long run.”
Trickett had anticipated owning the job ever since the aftermath of the season-ending 52-44 triple-overtime loss to Iowa State. Not even spending the entirety of spring practice in shorts altered that assumption.
“Having the spring off, you would think it hurt, but I got to see the game, this offense, from a different point of view, how the coaches see it,” he said. “And now I know more about what they want on the field.”
Turns out they mainly wanted Trickett on the field.