Ben Queen/WVMetroNews

Clint Trickett says he and West Virginia’s receivers are making the kind of fast-paced adjustments they couldn’t last season.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Though it flies in the face mask of conventional coaching wisdom, sometimes Shannon Dawson likes to be stunned by a quarterback’s decision.

He takes it as a sign of advanced comprehension.

“Every time we’ve been good on offense in the past, there were decisions made by quarterbacks that really weren’t even in the read,” Dawson said. West Virginia’s offensive coordinator would find himself asking “How the hell did the ball go there?” and his quarterback would explain “Well, this (defender) was doing this and that guy was doing this, so I threw it to him.”

Arming quarterbacks with such liberty makes the Air Raid instantly adaptable. It requires significant trust and a permissiveness that didn’t exist in college coaching before spread offenses changed play-calling.

Allan Taylor/WVMetroNews

Shannon Dawson says Clint Trickett seems to have put 2013’s struggles behind him.

“Anywhere a defense is flawed, you’re taking advantage of it,” Dawson said. “That’s better than seeing it later on tape and thinking, ‘Damn, I wish we could’ve done that.'”

Of course, the laxity to exploit defenses only pays off if the quarterback is comfortable with the layers of his own offense, and 2013 was anything but comfortable for Clint Trickett. His puzzled stares at the sideline had Dana Holgorsen repeating signals and repeatedly committing headset assault.

For Trickett, parlaying three years of development under Jimbo Fisher proved to be no help under Dana Holgorsen. He couldn’t operate the offense at its intended tempo, couldn’t communicate pre-snap adjustments to receivers, couldn’t unlock many of the options that made Air Raid functional at its core.

“It was two completely different mindsets,” Trickett said. “Going from Jimbo’s offense to this offense was at complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Like Jimbo, when he calls that play he wants that play. Here, when (Holgorsen) calls this play, if that’s not a good play you can change to whatever you want.”

“(The receivers) trust me and I’ve got trust in them. That makes practice fun.” — West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett

A year later, and with one year left to make good on his return to West Virginia, Trickett zips through camp clear-headed and fully initiated. It’s apparent in the way he quick-pitches the ball against pressure—something Dawson admits “he was horrible at last year.” It’s noticeable in how unnoticeable his signals have become, subtle hand-waving and finger twitches that alert receivers without making it obvious to the defense.

The frustrated, self-doubting Trickett of last year has evolved, bringing along a crew of returning receivers who seem to be rising at the same efficiency. From the remedial moments of 2013, Trickett contends the offense is reaching “level 400 stuff, very advanced stuff,” that makes practice a daily exercise in seeing how high it can elevate.

“We’re so tight,” he said, “we’re checking things at the line of scrimmage that only me and the receivers know about. The coaches aren’t even aware.”

And based upon Air Raid precedent, those are the type of surprises Dawson expects.

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  • One Bullet

    It still rides on the o-line. Too many articles and focus on Tricket. How often does a QB do well with a leaky line.

  • VaultHunter

    This will be one of the main reasons for a complete 180 for WVU.

    2014= 8-4

    With that schedule....I'll take it.

  • any major dude

    Courtesy of ESPN the magazine College Football Preview:

    " football is, at its core, a kind of beautiful chaos, something science, and certainly not people, can neither manage nor explain".

  • Ed

    For anyone that has been through the recruiting process with there kids, you really don't know what to believe or who to trust! It is Never the way they say it is! The best will play is Not always true as well! They tell kids what they want to hear to get them there, then you are on your own! My son was told before an opening season game, as late as running out on the field, you are starting today. He played late in the game on special teams! Nuff said!!

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    Alan it's probably time for you to ask your loyal readers for their prediction on season - wins and losses and why . You can do a commentary on your prediction for the year and then ask readers for the same . It could be an annual thing . Also it would be fun to predict who will be in the final 4 ( the first year of the new playoff format ) .

  • Greg

    I guess the "air raid" earned its name while at Oklahoma state, not wvu.

    • Aaron

      Actually it originated at Texas Tech under Mike Leach and is a derivative of the Red Raiders moniker.

      You are right though. Even though WVU QB's threw for 3100 yards, a total only surpassed 5 times in WVU history, those numbers are hardly indicative of what this offense is meant to do.

      • Hillboy wv

        Actually hal mumme had it at kentucky.

  • JimJim

    From the Charleston Gazette, Dana Dude, "In his response, he joked that “You lie in recruiting a bunch. That’s just kind of part of it. You become a salesman.’’ A car salesman who lies. That's our coach!

    • Aaron

      Your disparaging comments regarding WVU cite an article 8 months old and a rag of a newspaper whose best use is bird cage lining.

      Biased any?

  • any major dude


    Are you going to post here when it's obvious you're wrong?

    Probably not, huh?

  • knows

    college football final......Alabama 127 WVU 3

    • TruthTeller

      I don't recall if Alabama has ever scored that many points in one game. Now if Marshall played them, Alabama might score that many

  • TD

    Hey Atlanta sound the sirens WVU Air Raid on the way, Bama going down for the third time in a row! Cry another river Saban maybe eventually NCAA will make the offense count three Mississippi before it snaps the ball. Bombs away!

  • any major dude

    I find Allan's coverage interesting and not overly biased. Athlons in a fine publication but is not very in-depth. And last time I looked, Allan predicted that we would finish somewhere around 6-6, although I suppose that's subject to change. Hardly overhyping.

  • TD

    Trickett has a handle, Holgorsen has a handle, the assistant coaches have a handle, the depth issue is about straightened out, whoa nelly look out Big 12 WVU in the house baby. Just can't shake the feeling that WVU is about to show the country that we are back! Luck and Holgorsen doubters tuck your head between your tail and run because the Mountaineer express getting ready to run wild! Oh what a fun season it's shaping up to be. Roll tide roll (over that is the Mountaineers are coming thru starting with you)!!

  • MountainMover

    Expectations will be low, that could work for them. Geno, Tavon, were a hard act to follow.

  • JimJim

    Stop believing the hype. Stop reading WV media.
    Take a look.

    • Aaron

      With Taylor, I'm not so sure it's hype. I imagine his feelings to WVU are similar to Chuck Landon's thus if he's giving WV players credit, I assume it is based on his experience in evaluating players and is not local sports journalist hype.

    • Mudzbrother

      Because articles dated 1/14/14 are more enlightening.

      • Yogi Wahoo

        The article to be published in late Dec or Jan 2015 will be the enlightening one.

        • ezd

          No it won't. They know less about our team than I do. I could write a better article about where our team is at than they could. The jist would be if Trickett can play well we'll win alot. We are loaded with talent compared to past teams that have won bcs bowls. And we have more depth than any team we've had since nehlen was here and he only had a couple teams with this much quality depth.

  • daddyo

    clint needs to grow some muscle and protect himself , otherwise his career will end vs. alabama