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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  • cutty77

    One big reason Trickett isn't any good is because of Talent at this level. Will he be better this year? I sure hope so,he can't get any worse.I have watched him for 3 years because of his Dad and WV ties. The Big 12 is a very Good conference for offense. Below average QB's can't make it in this conference. He's to small,to slow,and not strong enough to last or hold up. He hasn't showed me anything in the past or future to change my thoughts on him.

    • Aaron

      Given he played with a torn labrum last year and still managed to throw for more than 1600 yards, I would say he did decent. Me thinks your comments are based more on bias than astute football knowledge.

    • scale

      I agree with J. i"m wondering if I could talk to you about this weekend's baseball lines

      • cutty77

        The Baseball is the easiest bet to win. Just bet The Pitcher. Baseball Teams will go on long losing and winning streaks.

    • J the C

      Interesting post. "he hasn't shown me anything in the past or in the future to change my thoughts on him." How does one show you " the future..." That would require something out of "Minority Report" wouldn't it? Great movie, btw..

      • cutty77

        Clint Trickett has no future as a WVU QB.

        • WVU 2014

          Cutty how did you watch him for 3 years? You don't get recruited by Florida State if you can't play. Um, he was beat out by the Heisman trophy winner, who also beat out Coker, who is transferring to Alabama as a likely starter. Not sure of your dislike for him, but your insight stinks!!

        • FNP

          Your arguments and points have no weight to them. You show no signs of sports intelligence.

          • TruthTeller

            Cutty thinks WVU should a a 6' 9"
            quarterback that weighs as much as he does over 800 lbs.

          • cutty77

            I know this. Clint Trickett can't QB for anybody in Div. 1 Football. Now show me some intelligence that he can.Please Prove me wrong,i have been saying this since last summer when we signed him. So far nobody including Trickett has proved me.

  • FNP

    Everybody wondered why Trickett wasn't very good. Well know you know. He didn't know the offense that well and all the receivers have even mentioned that Trickett wasn't allowed to change plays. When you dont have that capability then you're gonna go 4-8. I think you can switch those numbers around for this year. It's looking like an 8-4 season and thats pretty dang good.

  • spiralninja

    “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.”

    ^^^ That right there, is called leadership. This young man is ready. Focus needs to be on pass protection. Let's Go!!!

  • Molon Labe

    I could not get past the aweful headline to read the article. Allan you're better than that!

  • the flying dutchman

    4 days to implement...2 years to master...i remember holgorsen saying he could install his system in 4 days..and remember thinking of the k.i.s.s. appears the devil is in the detail with his system and having it perform at a high level. his shortcoming has been continuity at qb....note to trickett, you must stay healthy or we will be forced to rely upon the ground game. someone said this before and i believe it to be true...we could be a better team but not have a better record..i think we can surprise some folks..

  • jay zoom

    the only ticket this Quaterback needs is one with a transfer to another school where he could show his talents at a better program than the one he is in now. as long as OLLIE and DANA run the show at WVU recognition on a PRO basis will be along way from coming.. THANKS OLLIE

    • TruthTeller

      Gay zoom please stop posting on this web page.
      Also get out of your grandmother's basement and get a job. Earn a living for a change.

    • Kevin

      "recognition on a PRO basis will be along way from coming.."

      WHAT?? What kind of offense do you think Tavon/Stedman/Geno flourished in? Do you think ANY of those guys would have been drafted that highly without Dana's help? if so, you're as stupid as i imagined. And guess who coached, installed and tweaked that system? Yep, Holgs did.........just give it time man.....

  • Big Rick

    “(The receivers) trust me and I’ve got trust in them. That makes practice fun.”
    -Big Rick

  • Donna

    "repeatedly committing headset assault". I truly enjoy and look forward to reading your articles, Allan. Thank you for your creative and comprehensive writing! Let's Go Mountaineers!!

    • J the C

      Yeah Donna, I had to LOL at that one. Is that a misdemeanor in West Virginia?

  • TD

    Sounds like coaches and players alike are on a different page this year, hopefully that equates into a better season. Good luck Mountaineers anxious to see if all the good reports are for real, maybe this year we can take a few of the should have won games from last year.


    Sounds great.....lets see how well they adjust to defenses that aren't there teammates....

    Lets Gooooooooo!!!!Mountaineeeeers!!!

    • Guardian

      The argument could be made that they should do better against defenses that are not their teammates. Their teammates see the offense every day and can jump certain plays early because of that familarity - to other defenses, it will be a surprise.

  • rekterx

    Now if only the offensive line performs and stays healthy!


    Clint's issues last year were not knowing the offense and playing hurt the majority of the year. This year, he is at the opposite end of both of those. His health will be the key and the OL's ability to keep him upright. No matter how talented Crest is, if Trickett goes down, WVU will feel his loss and there will be a definite drop in the offense's production, IMO.

    17 days to go before the season starts and can't wait to see what the Mountaineers have to offer this season. First 4 games will tell the tale for 2014.

    • TruthTeller

      Actually only two teams in the four will be a challenge. Alabama and Oklahoma. WVU
      should win Towson and Maryland. The Maryland game was a fluke and they took advantage of the struggles with all the other apparent issues WVU had last year. WVU beat WVU in that Maryland game. Those issues have been fixed and WVU should win both of those games as long as the O-line does its job. I am not real convinced with Cook. He seems to have the intelligence of a five year old. But maybe he just lacks communication skills. I guess we will find out in the first game.

      • NCWVUFAN

        You could be right but if WVU is smart, they will not "sleep" on either Towson or Maryland. If Towson's RB had not declared for the NFL, they would have probably been top 3 in the FCS and we have seen what the upper crust of that division have done to some pretty good Power 5 conference teams. As far Maryland, I think they bring back a lot of guys from last year (not sure of that though) and WVU goes back to MD's actual home field to play them so that will be a very good game. As it usually does and has in the past, the MD game could be the game that dictates WVU's season.

        • Jim

          Right now WVU can't afford to "sleep" on Glenville. High School. JV team. If the lines can be controlled and turnovers minimized it will be a very interesting year! Homer-hat still sitting on the shelf. Soon it will be time to back up all of the preseason talk.

      • Aaron

        Most college experts disagree with you regarding Maryland. One publication goes so far as predicting them at the top of the Big 10 if they can remain healthy. A victory at Maryland is a huge obstacle for this team.

      • tsquare

        Who is Cook? If your are referring to R. Crook then your perception of him is way off base. Seemed to have no problem communicating with the high IQ guys at Stanford.

        • Ole Sasquatch

          Truthteller is telling the truth. Crook has not shown us any likeness as to what was accomplished at Stanford. We need to hold his feet to the fire.
          Now let me hear from all you coach lovers out there. Yes, that's right - the one's who are most responsible for, not 1 mind you, but 2 disastrous end of the seasons.

          • tsquare

            Stanford had depth. WVU DIDN'T! Plus he was working with recruits he didn't recruit. Gotta have time to develop players the way you want them to play. RICHROD IS NOT COMING BACK.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Excuse me people maybe Ole Sasquatch ain't too smart but what does this say about the pre-management ability of the coaches to not have a ready QB for last yr?

    • DWM

      Let's review.

      Ford Childress beat out Millard and Trickett wasn't ready. Then Childress suffered a season ending injury in the Maryland game. Millard came in, he was ineffective. Because Childress was out for the season and Millard was ineffective, we were forced to play our third string qb, Clint Trickett.

      How many teams are going to function when they have to go to their third string qb, who got hurt himself. The upside of having to play an injured Trickett was he was force fed the offense and will be better for it this year.

      Ole Sasquatch, your first statement was all we needed to know.

      • Ole Sasquatch

        Know the history of what happened in the season - does'nt anyone pay attention to what I wrote above. I believe I made it quite clear the subject area was pre - management (that means before the season to you intellects) If you continue to give these coaches excuses we will never develop into a national power again - you know - like we use to be when we had coaches who actually planned in professional detail in the management of the PRESEASON!!! Do that and you don't go into a tailspin at the end of the season. You know - 2 straight yrs. of tail spin - you all willing to forget that now. I'm not - I believe in holding their feet to the fire! Hell, there getting paid - damn well!

    • Aaron

      I don't think you can play in a system like Fisher's at FL State in which you are forbidden from making pre-snap reads and then come into one where it is demanded and run with it, not to mention the difference in communication procedures. Skylar Howard suffered from the same problems Trickett did and it showed. That's why he was red-shirted.

      • Ole Sasquatch

        Should be evident that I am not talking about Trickett. We all know he got here late. In case you don't know we had QBs' in the system adequate time before. Then there was the constant comments coming from the coaching staff that it only took a few days to learn the system.

        • Aaron

          The article was about Trickett being prepared last year and you made a comment about quarterbacks not being prepared last year. How does that indicate you were referencing anyone other than Trickett?


          • Aaron

            Are you saying Millard was not mentally ready to be the QB last year?

          • ThatGuyOverThere

            Good Observation Gary.

          • Ole Sasquatch

            I think you just answered your own question when you put an s on quarterbacks. Man, I admit I am not the sharpest in the tool shed but I have to ask, can't you all read.
            Two things: 1. Don't be blinded by the hype. 2. Hold these coaches feet to the fire - that's how we will get better.

    • TD

      You're right, you're not to smart.

      • Ole Sasquatch

        TD you unwittingly fell into my trap. You along with others are showing extreme optimism while ignoring the last 2 yrs. The last 2 yrs. have shown a lot of immature coaching mistakes which hopefully are coaches have grown out of. However there have been so many to which I should not have to remind anyone of and if you think this incoming talent hype is going to make all the changes you are forgetting the end of the year losing streak we had when all those pro athletes were here. Now how damn dumb do you all look?

        • tsquare

          Look at this team, especially the depth on both sides of the ball. Why can't we be optomistic. Holgy finally has a team that he needs to run in the B12. Lets see what happens this year before we burn our coaches feet

          • Ole Sasquatch

            I go along with that for now but after falling off a cliff the last 2 seasons like I said hold their feet to the fire - so we will be ready to burn them if we fall off a cliff in the last 5 games like the preceding 2. There is no excuse to just give up at the end of the season. This is still pretty much the same coaching staff and they are overpaid the last 2 seasons.

  • pat

    Each day this is sounding less like hype to me. 9 & 3, is it really possible?

    • J the C

      I agree Pat. With each passing day, I'm getting a little more optimistic and excited. That is particularly true with Trickett. Two months ago, I said we can't win with this guy unless there's some sort of transformation. But as I read the explanations of his shortcomings last season, and how he's evolving this year, I find myself nodding in agreement and thinking, "that makes sense"!

    • WVU 2014

      9-3? Would be huge, dunno know about that. But lets have fun with it
      I think Wins can be, Towson, MD, I think we take a big game at home either (Oklahoma or Baylor)
      KS,TT,TCU, TX , K-State & Iowa State...there is your 9......that would be a hell of a season.
      I'd settle for 8-4

      • cutty77

        Yes i will take 8 an 4 right now. This Team has talent it just needs a little luck.

  • Tomgone12

    We can only hope to see such development and finess in both Clint and the WRs.
    Last year it was so evident that he was confused at ( a lot of) times and the O inconsistent. It only stands to reason that more time and effort in the system would generate results. We have all read and seen DH is more relaxed, confident (maybe even giddy) and i beleive he, KW MA DS and yes even JT, will be improved. We all hope that they surprise us with how much and Clint can appraoch 70% completion and greatly reduce INTs. L G M !!!