Waiting, like everyone else
DALLAS - West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen spent roughly six hours Tuesday bouncing from one media obligation to the next during the Big 12's annual football media event. The knowledge gleaned in that time was rather varied.
For instance, Holgorsen spent part of his brief summer vacation on safari in Africa with his son, Logan.
"It was good father-son time,'' he said. "We had a blast.''
It was also discovered that Holgorsen doesn't much care - not a revelation there, of course - about criticism in some quarters about modern offenses speeding up the game and, critics say, subjecting tiring defensive players to injury. Among others, Alabama coach Nick Saban voiced some concern over that last week.
"Yeah, I'd tell him to get over it because it's not going to change,'' said Holgorsen, whose offensive style fits the faced-paced description to a T. "It's going into the NFL, for crying out loud. There's people being hired in the NFL that have the background in college football to be able to create a little bit more parity.
"I don't see it changing any time soon, so you'd better learn to adapt to it.''
He also patiently and for the most part satisfactorily answered the obligatory queries regarding the loss of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey ("You're going to lose good players in college football,'' he said. "It happens every single year.''); about changing defensive coordinators from Joe DeForest to Keith Patterson ("He's been a defensive coordinator for a long time. He's extremely familiar with what we want to do defensively. He's been doing that for quite some time. I'm really happy with the transition.''); and opined his frustration with NCAA rules that forbid coaches from much interaction with players, especially newcomers, during the summer months when they first arrive ("But that's something that needs to be addressed much higher than my level.'')
What Holgorsen didn't do was answer the one question that almost everyone wants to know - who the quarterback who replaces Smith is likely to be.
He's as curious as the next guy.
"We've got Clint Trickett coming in, who has probably as much experience in the college game as anybody in the Big 12, just because he's been a starter in some big games and he's been around it his whole life,'' Holgorsen said. "He's a very smart kid, graduated at Florida State in three years, backed up two first-round draft picks at Florida State in three years.
"He's been around it his whole life and is a good player. And I didn't tell him that he was going to start, either.''
That Holgorsen mentioned Trickett, the junior transfer who has been on campus since late May, may or may not be significant. Who knows?
"He's got to come in and beat an experienced Paul Millard out, who has taken more reps than anybody on our campus,'' Holgorsen said. "He's taken 50 percent of the reps for a long, long time in practice. So he knows the offense better than anybody.
"And then you've got Ford Childress, who's going to continue to get better and better. He may have more potential than any of the other guys. He's just young, with four years remaining.''
Millard and Childress, of course, have had their chances to impress Holgorsen, and neither wowed him during 15 spring practices, which might at least indicate that Trickett will get a harder look than the others as soon as camp begins on Aug. 1, a week from Thursday. All Holgorsen really knows about the son of former WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett is what he's seen on film from his spot duty at Florida State.
"What I saw on tape more than anything that stood out was durability,'' Holgorsen said of the rather lanky, 6-foot-3 Trickett. "Everybody thinks he's not durable because he's thin, but I saw some guys from [Oklahoma] and some guys from Clemson hit that kid about as hard as anybody's ever been hit and he jumped up and was right back in the middle of it. He's a tough kid who understands the game of football.''
Holgorsen said there is no plan on when to name one of them the starter.
"As soon as one of them separates himself from the others, the sooner the better,'' he said. "That may take a day. It may take 21/2 weeks.
"But I like where we're at with it and I look forward to getting there and being able to coach them. I'm not going to put a timetable on it. When one of those guys steps up, we're going to name the starter and move forward with reps.''
So far, it appears that of the 25 players WVU signed as freshmen or junior college transfers, Mario Alford, Brandon Golson, Darrien Howard, Dontrill Hyman and Isaac McDonald are the only ones who have to dispense with all enrollment issues. That's a significant list, though, given that those are some of the players considered at the top of the recruiting class.
And, as almost always happens, NCAA clearinghouse issues can always crop up when least expected. Players have been known to begin practice and then have to be pulled. But Holgorsen said he and his staff will always try to make sure that every possible contingency has been looked into because once a player begins practice he counts against the school's scholarship numbers.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.