MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With West Virginia just two weeks away from facing No. 2-ranked Alabama in Atlanta, Clint Trickett wants his teammates to attack Saturday’s camp-closing scrimmage like a game.
“I’m going to tell our guys that we need to take it as you’re not playing against Daryl Worley, you’re playing against Alabama,” the quarterback said Friday.
The former Florida State quarterback, feeling emboldened in his second season at West Virginia, said the offense needs to maximize its final full-contact preseason scrimmage. With 17 of 22 players returning on the offensive two-deep, the unit has benefitted from a level of continuity that was missing in 2013.
Saturday presents one more chance to gauge how far Trickett and the offense have progressed against a defense that also figures to be improved.
“The next couple weeks we’re going to be going against scouts, so we’re not going to get the good-on-good looks as we have during camp,” he said.
Trickett’s previous two trips to the Georgia Dome produced great memories. He was a redshirt freshman when FSU upset No. 19 South Carolina at the 2010 Peach Bowl. Five seasons before that, he watched his dad as an assistant coach when West Virginia stunned Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Recent Mountaineers practices have featured crowd noise blaring from stadium speakers, as coaches prep for the 71,000-plus expected in Atlanta.
“That atmosphere can creep up on you,” Trickett said. “The sound in that dome, it stays in there. And those SEC bands, they play their music loud and proud. There’s so much pageantry.”
Per the Chick-fil-A Kickoff contract, Alabama received 31,000 tickets and West Virginia received 25,000, with Crimson Tide fans reportedly scarfing up most of the at-large tickets. Alabama has played in the dome six times during Nick Saban’s seven seasons and boasts a large alumni base in Atlanta, which sits less than 90 minutes from the Alabama state line.
Trickett anticipates a road game atmosphere: “We travel well—we always do—but I would think the majority would be Alabama fans because it’s right down the road.”
Despite spending six childhood years in Auburn while his father Rick was an assistant for the Tigers, Trickett said he later became a “huge Alabama fan.”
That was during his sophomore and junior years at North Florida Christian, where receiver Melvin Ray was an Alabama commitment who wound up chasing a pro baseball career before walking on at Auburn.
“I went up with (Ray) all the time on his visits” to Tuscaloosa, said Trickett, who ultimately considered transferring to Auburn last year before choosing WVU. He typically doesn’t pick sides during the Iron Bowl.
“I’m a fan of both, honestly,” he said. “I respect Coach Saban and love Coach Malzahn. They’re two of the best.
“That’s THE greatest rivalry in college football, hands down. They care about football and they’re good at it. They put a quality product on the field. They’re two damn good football teams.”
While Trickett beat out Paul Millard for WVU’s quarterback job, he admits he’ll never match his fellow senior in ping-pong.
“No one on the team can beat him,” Trickett said. “”He’s a phenomenal ping-pong player. It’s outstanding actually—it’s freaky. I try to get him every day and I can’t score a point on him.”