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Stickin' with Trickett

AP Photo
Clint Trickett put up his best numbers of the season in WVU's loss to Texas Tech Saturday.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Here's a refreshing change. For perhaps the first time this season, West Virginia will begin preparing for an opponent with a clear-cut starter at quarterback.

The Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) face Kansas State (2-4, 0-3) Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan., the first of two straight road games. The 3:45 p.m. (ET) kickoff will be televised by Fox Sports 1.

And barring the unforeseen, Clint Trickett will be WVU's starting quarterback, Dana Holgorsen said Monday.

"The current situation, yes,'' Holgorsen said when asked if Trickett was clearly the starter.

Of course, the situations have tended to vary dramatically so far this season.

Trickett is West Virginia's third starting quarterback this season. Paul Millard got the call the first two games, Ford Childress the next two and Trickett the last three.

But while Trickett has started three straight games, it's not always been clear that he would heading into the week. Prior to a win over Oklahoma State he beat out Millard during the week after Childress was hurt. When Trickett injured his shoulder against the Cowboys, it was well into the week before it was clear he could play against Baylor.

And then after he played and the Mountaineers were humbled by the Bears, Holgorsen went right up until game time before deciding to send Trickett out over Millard against Texas Tech.

Trickett wasn't always sharp against the Red Raiders, but he did make progress.

"I do think he played his best game,'' Holgorsen said Monday after a day of dissecting tape. "It wasn't a winning performance, but I do think he played his best football up until this point.''

Trickett went 27 of 43 passing for 254 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions Saturday. His 63-percent completion rate was significantly better than his 41-percent rate prior to that.

But Trickett and the entire offense just bombed over the final 20 minutes of that game, allowing Tech to rally from a 27-16 deficit to win 37-27. On WVU's last five possessions, the Mountaineers generated just one first down.

Still, Holgorsen looked at the bigger picture, namely the offense's performance in relation to earlier games, and was at least a bit encouraged.

"We made progress. I think everybody would agree with that,'' Holgorsen said, pointing out that Tech's defense included seven senior starters. "We made some things happen. We moved the ball, scored some points, got the ball in the end zone several times.''

The fourth quarter, he said, was an offensive nightmare, but the offense wasn't the only issue. The defense gave up 21 straight points and the special teams didn't make any positive plays.

"When the game was on the line, they did a much better job on all three sides of the ball of making plays when the game was on the line,'' Holgorsen said. "And you've got to give them credit for that.''

Still, after changing quarterbacks so often and seeing at least some measure of improvement, Holgorsen figures this isn't the time to begin another overhaul. Trickett's knowledge of the offense is improving, as is his communication with Holgorsen during games.

And, not to be overlooked, the junior transfer from Florida State is relatively healthy - or, as he said Saturday, "as healthy as I'm going to be.''

"He's healthy, so he'll be able to [practice] Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, which is the first time he's been able to do that for quite some time, to be able to take reps all week,'' Holgorsen said. "So we'll work him in with the majority of the reps and continue to try to get him better.''

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

 


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