Ben Queen/WVMetroNews photo

WVU’s Clint Trickett, shoving Alabama’s Xzavier Dickson after an incompletion, threw for 365 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s 33-23 loss.


ATLANTA — After throwing for 365 yards and watching bookoodles more dropped by his receivers, Clint Trickett left the Georgia Dome convinced West Virginia’s offense was back in the fast lane.

“We know we can drive on anyone,” he said.

For periods of Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, Alabama certainly believed him.

Trickett picked apart the defense picked to win the almighty SEC. He established a lethal connection with Kevin White while hitting on 29-of-45 passes overall. Yet he shrugged off at least six drops that could have made the final minutes of a 33-23 loss more dramatic.

A third-down throw ricocheted off Shelton Gibson’s shoulder pads. A swing pass eluded Dreamius Smith in the flat. Devonte Mathis fought a ball to the turf. Jordan Thompson made a tremendous tumbling catch yet flubbed an easier one. An uncovered Elijah Wellman got two hands around a knee-high pass that fell incomplete at the goal line. Daikiel Shorts lifted his hands too late on a fourth-quarter slant.

Yet Trickett wasn’t belly-aching.

“It’s the first game of the year: If I get on them, who knows what it’s going to do to the rest of the year,” he said. “They’re going to make those plays. I know they are.

“I probably could have put the ball in better places, and I didn’t. The last throw to Daikiel was 100-percent on me, and so was Eli’s.”

From the perch in the offensive coordinator’s booth, Shannon Dawson saw quicker, more accurate decisions from his quarterback. (“I thought the ball went to the right place the majority of the time.”) From the postgame interactioh, he saw clearer evidence that more touchdowns lie ahead. (“We’ve got a lot to build on. Clint’s a talented kid with a huge heart. The chemistry of that group is good.”)

The performance against Alabama validated what Trickett saw during a month of preseaon practices: WVU starting to resemble the Dana Holgorsen offenses of years before 2013.

“We played decent tonight, but not good enough to win the game. That’s the bottom line,” Trickett said. “A lot of people were probably surprised by how well we played, but we weren’t.”

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  • Itch

    Happily eating breakfast of crow--I said Trickett has no upside--hah! He made great decisions and put it in amazingly tight spaces.
    Not an x's and o's guy either, but why are people getting down on safeties with so few big plays given up, especially long passes? Remember last year? Play calling?? Alabama looked confused (outcoached??) all game and the O was consistently put in a position to succeed. O line was solid against a bestial opponent. Body language great--Eers look promising!!

  • Aaron

    Overall, WVU played well but I thought the game started to turn on the back to back drops by Mathis and Smith that seemed to kill WVU's momentum in the first half. Had WVU got the ball back on a stop, perhaps the game might have been different but giving up the big 1st down on 3rd and 12 when numerous defensive players had a shot at White cemented the momentum shift.

    From there, Alabama was able to control the ball, the line of scrimmage and it seemed like WVU just couldn't get the rhythm going that was on display early.

    I was disappointed that WVU didn't run for more yards but given the Alabama defense, the pace of the game and the score, it's somewhat understandable that Trickett threw as much as he did.

    I think Alabama loses at least 2 games this year, and perhaps 3 so I'm not sure how this game looks as compared to today, particularly if WVU is not bowling.

    On a positive note, I though Joseph and Worley played well, the offensive line did a good job of protecting Trickett and defensive was impressive at times, especially in the first half.

    I was a little concerned with some of the play calling, especially on the first drive when WVU had goal to go and ran the ball twice before throwing a fade one of their shorter receivers.

    All and all though, I thought it was a great effort by a team many expected to get blown out. It's a great day to be a Mountaineer.

  • whatamoroon

    The game in a nutshell. We ran the ball in the first quarter well, after that not at all. The passing game was much improved over last year but inexperienced receivers dropped balls in crucial situations by not getting their hands up for the catch. The defense couldn't get off the field on third down, no matter how many the offense needed. We settled for field goals instead of punching it in the end zone. Bad calls at critical times did not help.

  • ExtendedMountaineerFamily

    This was a great game and effort by the team in my opinion! Chins up!!
    The lessons learned from this challenge will only elevate them to an elite level this year to compete for the Big 12 championship and then the final playoffs. The dropped passes, over-pursuing pass rushing and mis-snaps came from being too amped up in their first game against a deep-powerful team. They'll get that stuff worked out and I thought the O-line did great given the challenges today and the defense held it's on. There were definitely some poor penalty calls especially that pass interference on Henry which came at a crucial moment on the freshman.
    I sure hope Quinton Spain is okay...

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    Easily the best I've ever felt after a loss . Didn't like our uniforms but loved our grit . We needed to get points off that int . Shell will have a 200 + game but isn't fast enough to return kickoffs . Trickett is way better than last year . D needs to bring it every week and they will . I don't think the Lane experiment is going to work long term at Alabama . Alabama is fundamentally sound . I like these opening week neutral site games . But it has to be opening week . The BYU game in DC is like week 3 , and that doesn't work . At a critical point in the game channel 4 decides to split screen the game with the daily number drawing and the sound is the lottery announcer . Idiots from Pittsburgh . Provided we didn't have any serious injuries we should be in good shape to compete the rest of the season.

    • ernie

      Morgantown should have their own ABC station. Too much Pittsburgh influence in this state.

  • Karl

    A legit shot at winning the Big 12? I sure hope so however after watching all those 3rd down conversions and poor safety play I just can't be that optimistic Ron.

  • Mike

    Trickett deserves another kiss for that performance.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    I could'nt help notice how well Coach Crook's offensive line had the running game going in the second half. If he can't get them doing better than that he should resign tonight and he calls himself a coach? I also notice how everyone likes to ignore this problem. Did it ever occur to you if our offense could stay on the field a little longer our defense would'nt wear out in the fourth qtr. What I saw was an offensive line that did pretty well in the first half. What happened in the second half. Hell their out of shape - they were too tired to run block and here we are with all those good running backs. Don't let Crook off the Hook. The offensive line is the cornerstone of any football team.

    • Mitch

      @ Ole Sasquatch,

      What happened in the 2nd half was that Alabama's defense sold out to stop the run.
      If you don't know enough about the game to understand that, you probably shouldn't attempt to comment anymore.

    • Jay

      Not sure what line u were watching and stay off Coach Crook. He's a winner and will improve our line play

      • Ole Sasquatch

        Well sir, I think I was watching the line that produced - Yes! 38 yards rushing. Yes 38 big ones. But I will obey and fade into the West while Coach Crook improves as the year goes along - much like he did last year.

        • Jed

          Are you just trying to be nonsensical and random?
          If so, you're doing a great job.

  • Shadow

    For those that have been bad mouthing Trickett, they should eat some crow. Officiating was terrible.

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    I was very proud of WVU . The game played out exactly like I thought it would . In fact in a previous post I said 34 - 23 . I knew we had the better offense . The more I looked at the game the more I knew 26 points was too much . Had Alabama not brought their "A" game in the 2nd half , we would have won. If we get a lead in the second half , we win that game . WVU has a legit shot at winning the B12 .

  • Karl

    Tide ran over 80 plays while grinding off almost 38 mins play time. 9 of 16 3rd downs. If this doesn't improve, it'll be another long, bowl free season for the mighty Monntaineers.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Most relevant observation I've seen Karl. Yes, that means our defense was on the field 63% of the time. Thank you Coach Crook you can take credit for this loss because of that high powered offensive line that you coach. You are just wasting our powerful running backs. Why don't you QUIT?
      We suffered through the same thing out of you all last year and since Holgorsen is so satisfied with this loss he can follow you.

  • MountainMover

    They had a great opportunity to win. Trickett looked much improved, poised. NO TURNOVERS, awesome. The win was right there and that bad snap was just brutal. They should get Even better, cautiously optimistic they have turned the corner. Sucks to lose any winnable game but if we let this motivate us to improve every week then it could be a terrific season.

  • Karl

    Safety play disappointing. Defense allowed way to many 3rd down conversions. Time of possession tells the tale.

  • ernie

    Great game by Clint. Even the few balls he threw that weren't perfect were still catchable. The run game will pick up against the rest of the defenses we will face. The main thing we need is for the defense to step up. We do not want a 2012 version that requires the offense to score 40 or more every week. We should be able to win six or seven games. Let's Go Mountaineers!!!

  • any major dude

    There were a couple of passes where you could say they weren't great passes but should have been caught. Other that that, he threw some beautiful passes which were caught or flat-out dropped. Clint brings leadership, smarts, and experience, and his arm, when healthy, ain't bad.