Did bye week heal passing game?

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If you thought West Virginia’s receivers had trouble catching up to Clint Trickett’s deep throws at Baylor, you should have witnessed the trouble Trickett encountered catching flights during the bye weekend.

Aiming to spend some R&R time with his dad at Florida State, the quarterback suffered a false start when he missed Friday’s outbound flight from Pittsburgh International.

“The dang security line was all the way backed up into the tunnel—a lot of people missed flights that day,” Trickett said. (Swallow that advice about trying the alternative checkpoint, because as Trickett noted, “They had it closed, too.” Hey, at least the kid’s finally going through his progressions.)

Then came Sunday night’s tweet—”I am the king of missing flights”—which revealed Trickett had just as much boarding on his way back from Florida.

“Panama City is in a different time zone from Tallahassee, and I didn’t put that in my travel calculation,” he said. “So I wasn’t very happy when I got to the airport.”

In between airport adventures, Trickett enjoyed casually watching college football with his dad Rick, the offensive line coach at FSU, whose bye week happened to sync up with WVU’s. Trickett also joined friends for some dove and quail hunting—an outing on which the avid outdoorsman modified his shotgun stance in order to lessen kickback to the ailing right shoulder he’d been rehabbing all week.

“I tried to shoot with my left hand,” he said. “I shot about 100 times and maybe hit three birds.”

Equating those misfires with Trickett’s 41-percent completion rate is a punchline that comes too easily. But after many of his downfield flings wound up closer to Baylor defensive backs than West Virginia receivers, two factors became evident: Trickett needs to improve his deep-ball accuracy and he needs more time in the pocket to step into passes.

“With Baylor’s pressure, we were getting heated up pretty good … but a lot of times it was the throw,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. “We ran good post routes; we just didn’t throw the ball very well. When we get those opportunities we’ve got to know where to put the ball.

“We threw, I think, 14 or 15 post routes and I think we competed three. Last year (against Baylor) we threw 16 and completed probably 13 or 14.”

The sprained throwing shoulder, numbed by painkillers, didn’t help matters as Trickett finished 9-of-28 with one interception and two more picks dropped. Further complicating the mission were the four sacks and seven additional hurries WVU’s offensive line surrendered—a performance that saved Trickett money even as it cost him some bruises.

“The deal is one sack or less, I’ll take them out to dinner,” Trickett said. “They didn’t get to go this week.”

Dana Holgorsen was noncommittal before Tuesday’s practice and Dawson was downright evasive afterward in discussing this week’s starting quarterback. But in light of the staff making sideline signaling changes to assist Trickett’s communication, the choice seems apparent.

Paul Millard, who started the first two games, and Ford Childress, who led the offense in Weeks 3 and 4, reportedly shared the practice reps last week while Trickett rested his shoulder.

“It’s close to 100 percent,” said Trickett, who described last week’s workout regimen as “a lot of ice, a lot of treatment, a lot of time in the training room.”

As for Tuesday’s practice, whereupon the Mountaineers actually began game preparations for Texas Tech, the split of reps remained pure supposition.

“Everybody got about the same,” Dawson said. “I’ll let the head coach talk about that.”

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