|Clint Trickett led West Virginia to a pair of Big 12 victories last year against Oklahoma State and TCU.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
Earlier this week, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen announced Clint Trickett
as his starting quarterback for the season opener against Alabama.
Thursday evening, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson explained the decision to make their decision when they did.
“If you evaluate last year’s tape, which we’ve watched countless times, when he was healthy he played at a high level,” said Dawson. “The two Big 12 teams we beat he played in those games. That group right now, in our opinion, needs leadership. They look to him anyway. We feel like it’s clear-cut in our mind and so it’s going to give him confidence.”
Trickett did play a key role in West Virginia’s two Big 12 victories last year against Oklahoma State and TCU, and he performed well in West Virginia’s regular season loss to Iowa State, passing for 356 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-44 triple-overtime defeat.
Soon afterward, Trickett chose to have off-season shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and was unable to participate in spring football drills. He says he is now getting back to full health.
“I’m out there throwing and I’m doing the program, getting better one day at a time and healing up,” Trickett said.
Dawson believes Trickett is the team’s best option at quarterback right now heading into fall camp.
“This is something we’ve talked about, we’ve watched and we’ve evaluated,” said Dawson. “When you are talking about competition, competition, competition those guys are, ‘Who am I looking to?’ It clears up things with the guys around him and it clears up things with him. Now he can have a clear mind, relax, get better and not worry about sitting here trying to win the job every day.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of the announcement is that it enables Trickett to become the leader that the team sorely needs right now.
“When you know you’re the guy – there are no questions about it – you’ve got the coaching staff fully behind you it changes your demeanor and it changes your attitude,” said Dawson. “It’s only going to help him in the long run and it’s only going to help our unit in the long run.”
“It’s huge. They know who to look to so I don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “I can focus on my game – getting the team better and not worrying about, ‘Oh, is he going to make the decision?’ All of us were worried in camp last year and we all wanted to win (the job) and maybe we worried about that too much instead of getting ourselves and the team better and we won’t have that problem this year.”
The coaching staff is allowed to spend a limited amount of time with the players during the summer now and that will help Trickett with some of the issues that he had last year as a new player in Holgorsen’s offense.
“We get to study film with them two times a week and we get to go out there with them, but you can’t have a ball or anything,” Dawson said. “We also can’t have a group together so you have to segment it and doing quarterback drills without balls is tough. You have to manipulate some ways to get things done, but at least we’re with them.”
Hopefully, that will be enough for Trickett to make up some of the ground that he lost by not being able to practice last spring.
“Last year was probably more valuable to him than the spring because he was repping things in the game,” said Dawson. “The things he was deficient in when he got here with our offense versus the other team’s offense – the quick-game stuff and stuff like that – his ball is getting out accurately.
“He’s definitely improved on that throughout the course of the year, and if you watch the last game against Iowa State, offensively, we played at a pretty high level. We lost the game but I thought he played pretty well,” said Dawson.
Now, with the starting quarterback decision behind them, the entire team can now focus fully on the Crimson Tide.
“We’re going to give him as much reps as it takes,” said Dawson.