MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Amid suggestions West Virginia under-utilized its running game in a 33-23 loss to Alabama, quarterback Clint Trickett estimated he changed 10 to 15 plays to passes based on the defensive alignment.

“That’s football—you go where they’re not and do what they’re not,” he said Tuesday.

Afforded more play-checking flexibility than last season when he didn’t fully understand the offense, Trickett’s 365 passing yards were a career-high. On the flip side, the Mountaineers netted only 28 rushing.

Trickett said some calls were outright running plays switched to passes, while at other times he went to the line with an either/or option. The resulting breakdown was 48 designed pass plays—counting the three sacks—and only 21 runs.

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said after the game the offense needed to feed its running backs more. By Tuesday, with two days of film-study providing clarity, he said Trickett made the proper decision on all but three or four plays.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen didn’t find the run/pass ratio too one-dimensional.

“We pulled it and threw some screen passes, which technically is a run play. A couple of those plays downfield were (initially) run plays—we just pulled it and threw it down that way,” he said. “We could have probably called a few more run plays, but I was happy with what it was. It opened up some of the pass-game numbers.”

In the second half, West Virginia ran 29 designed pass plays to only seven runs. Those seven carries netted 5 yards.

“Who ever got into them at halftime, the linebackers filled a little different,” Dawson said. “Coming out of halftime they were going to take away the run. … Would you rather me hand the ball off 30 times into a bad box? No? Well, that’s not what we did. If they put more people in the box, we’re probably going to throw it 90 percent of the time.

“A lot of the time, the defense dictates how much you run or how well you run. (Alabama’s) defensive philosophy is they do not want you to run the ball on them. Period. We could have sat there and tried to, if that would’ve made everybody happy, but I’d rather try to win the damn game.”

It also might have boiled down to being overmatched by the Tide’s defensive front. During the past three seasons, Alabama ranked No. 1, No. 1 and No. 7 nationally in rush defense.

“They’re just hard to run against,” Holgorsen said. “It’s hard to line up and average 5, 6 yards a play against those guys. They’re big. They’ve got great depth—they played 12 defensive linemen—and they get off blocks.”

Did White get Bama CB benched? After Kevin White made seven catches for 115 yards against cornerback Brandon Sylve, the Crimson Tide swapped Cyrus Jones to shadow White for the final four series (resulting in two catches for another 28 yards).

At Tuesday’s practice in Tuscaloosa, Sylve was working with the second-team, demoted in favor of sophomore Eddie Jackson, who missed the WVU game while recovering from knee surgery.

White goes wild: White’s career-best performance also led Alabama to shade more safety help to his side.

“He draws a lot of attention, just by his body type, but when you make those (big) plays you’re going to get that extra attention,” Trickett said. “He’s going to be double-teamed a lot this year, and he’s still going to be able to make those plays.

“He’s a heck of a player. You can put it in places where maybe you can’t with other guys and he still comes down with it. That’s why you recruit those big guys like that.”

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Comments

  • Ole Sasquatch

    I’d rather try to win the damn game by passing.”
    If Alabama's defense were so determined to line up vs. the run in the 2nd. half we should have controlled the clock more by passing. Our weak and somewhat tired defense would have appreciated it. I agree pass when the run game is not going. Still people, S-T-I-L-L only 5 yds. on 7 plays. In the words of Warner Wolf, "Are you kidding me? Come on Coach Crook we have to ask more of you than that. Coach Holgorsen can tell me he's happy with the offensive line. Are you kidding me? Coach Dawson you can ignore this but believe me the Coaches on Defense are fuming.

  • any major dude

    Alabama is just an average team?
    Really? Not making mistakes, taking advantage of the other teams success,and getting refs calls gives them those stats and that record?

    • NCWVUFAN

      You don't play for 3 National Championships in the past 4-5 yrs with an "average" team. UA is very good and they have been especially good since Saban arrived. WVU was absolutely sticking right with them this past Saturday but I think (and I hope) that was based on WVU's improvement from last year. I am not taking anything away from what Bama has done the past few years. I am not a SEC fan but you have to give them their due. WVU can be "average" any day, and twice on Sunday, if they can get the same results as Bama has lately.

  • TruthTeller

    Who cares about ESPN. They are just tools that would sell their mother and kids for money. WVU was the better team by far. Anybody that has ever watched Alabama play knows Alabama is an average team. They just don't make very many mistakes and they take advantage of the mistakes of other teams. Plus they always get the help from the refs. WVU gave Alabama the victory with dropped passes, miss tackles, and
    bad execution in the red zone.
    Kevin White should of been utilized more in the red zone. You have to use your best weapons at critical times. Dana wake up!!!
    Now on to the next game. Teams make the most improvement from game one to game two which means WVU should have a great game against Towson. LETS GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!

    • Jerry Spiegler

      Alabama had 2 very powerful running backs who gained over 100 yards each in the same game. That's not average. Furthermore, their quarterback got hurried several times but never got sacked. Bama's run blocking and pass blocking were very good, better than average.

  • Ghost Rider

    Alabama has a really good team and great fans. WVU surprised a lot of people. One of the ESPN reporters was at the game and talked about how impressed he was with WVU and how much improvement they had made. There were a lot of dropped passes in crucial situations that could have made a difference in the final outcome of the game. Very optimistic about this season. Hope the team plays hard and with intensity every game.

  • any major dude

    If we play with the same intensity as we did vs UA we will crush Towson.

  • NCWVUFAN

    Gotta get the Bama game out of our system and get ready to play Towson. WVU cannot afford to sleep thru this game. Need to see improvement in this game; get the W; and then get ready for the next 2 games that will dictate how this season goes (MD and OU).

  • Rick

    Bama fan here. Great game guys. Trickett was sharp! He put the ball in the perfect spot all game. He's not getting the credit he deserves. If he continues to play that well, you guys will be fine. And he's right... take what the defense gives you. And we're not giving up the run. Best of luck guys and again good game.

    • 4WVUinKY

      @Rick...thanks and back at you. Your d line is an obvious strength and one that we could not match up against. Best to you bama boys for the rest of the season. Perhaps we'll meet again!

    • richard

      thanks rick, same to you guys.

  • WVU 2014

    forgot 1 last thing to the Trickett haters. HA!!!
    he played lights out and you know it

    • Mister Man

      Yeh buddy.

  • WVU 2014

    Me and my buddy drove 14 hours, and were very impressed with the amount of WVU fans. Tailgate was an absolute blast, welcomed plenty of fellow WVU fans to have a drink and Bama fans were cool to party with.
    We told them, our boys will show up, and even had Bama fans give a thumbs up and mention how impressed they were at the end of the game.
    We are fast, we had lots of chances to win and that's the difference at this point. Bama can close games, we need to work on that. 3rd down conversions, gotta be clutch in clutch situations. Work on those things WVU will be a force in BIG12. Gonna be fun to watch

    • Mister Man

      I'm happy you guys made the trip and glad you had a good time. Thanks for being there.

  • any major dude

    When we win as many games as UA does, we will get as much love from the national media as they do.

    The officiating was abysmal; whether it was incompetence or bias I don't know.

    • Mister Man

      When we win as many games.............. Figured that all by yourself did ya?

  • WVU law-daddy

    We were in Atlanta and the atmosphere felt completely different than the end of last year. Had a great time and left encouraged. Lots of optimism around the team, though it feels weird to become so excited over a 10-point loss.

  • Robin

    Those seven runs were mainly on first down and some on second. Hard to throw the ball on third and 8 every time.

    I would have loved to see a few passes on first down as they did not seem to be able to stop the pass.

    • Aaron

      2 of them were on first down. Why do you persist in telling this fib?

    • Mister Man

      We threw a lot of passes on first down.

  • TruthTeller

    WVU should of won. WVU was the better team.
    So much for the " so called SEC speed." It looked like WVU had the speed. I saw at least 10 pass interference calls not called on Bama. Now we know how they win so many games.Its called cheating!!! ACC refs were paid off as much as the camera crew and the announcers focusing on Bama the entire game. It seemed as though Bama was playing against itself. What has happened to college football. I have never seen so much bias for one conference in my life.

    • Oh Did Ya?

      WVU played well but they were not close to the better team. Bama lined up and everyone knew they were going to run and they got 6-15 yards at a time. I was at the game and proud of the way they played and agree they had a chance but under no circumstances was WVU the better team.

      • TruthTeller

        Well your opinion would of been completely different if WVU would of won. I have been watching football for over 40 years and I know what I saw. Alabama had to have the refs help them turn their drives into points.
        WVU moved right down the field on Alabama when some SEC teams could not even do that all game!!! WVU was the better team. Alabama was confused both the team, coaches and fans were all worried they was going to lose. Watch the game again and this time with your eyes open and without alcohol in your brain.

    • Mister Man

      I'm not sure if we should've won, but we could've won. We played with heart and that was impressive.

  • Aaron

    Wendell Smallwood had 6 catches for 73 yards. How many were out of the backfield?

    Clint Trickett did what good quarterbacks do and checked out if running plays 15 times when the defense dictated that action. Coaches said he was right on all but "3 or 4" meaning he made the right decision the majority of the time.

    Trying to force the issue when a facet of the game isn't there is nonsense. WVU ran the ball enough to keep Alabama honest which is really all that needs to be done.

    The offensive line blocked well, particularly given the opponent. The running game will be fine.

  • JTL

    Bama is over, towsen is next... It's time to focus on the next game and leave the last one where it is and that's in the history books.