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WVU football: Mountaineers find way to win with Trickett

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Though the news didn't come until late Thursday, West Virginia knew at the start of a week that ended with a needed win against No. 11 Oklahoma State that quarterback Ford Childress would not play.

In fact, the Mountaineers knew the redshirt freshman was ailing for a while before he was sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle.

"It was strained a few weeks," offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson said after backup Clint Trickett led WVU to a 30-21 victory. "I could tell from him grabbing it. It was a strained muscle for a week, a week-and-a-half. From what he told me after the game, it was torn in the first quarter in the Maryland game.

"Obviously, the kid's got an indented pec now and a muscle that's missing. The positive to that is he played through it, but he couldn't throw the ball 10 feet Tuesday. I appreciate him playing through the pain, but it'd be nice to communicate a little better probably."

Communication remained an issue throughout Trickett's third career start and first with WVU since transferring as a graduate student from Florida State in April. He continues to learn how to digest Coach Dana Holgorsen's play call signals from the sideline.

"The operation was incredibly frustrating," Holgorsen said. "I threw a couple temper tantrums I'm quite embarrassed about."

Then there was the time a Cowboys defender drove Trickett into the turf in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Trickett needed some time to get to his feet as the play clock ticked away, and the Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) ended up taking a delay of game penalty.

"That's his competitive spirit, but, dude, if you get hurt, lie down, let somebody come tend to you so we don't get a delay of game," Holgorsen said.

Trickett left the game and went to the training room to have his right shoulder evaluated. Trickett, who had the shoulder iced and wrapped after the game, called it a "little nick" and said it hurt when he left the field, but that it went away quickly enough that he only missed one snap.

He's expected to be fine for Saturday's 8 p.m. game at No. 17 Baylor (3-0). The matchup will be televised by Fox Sports 1.

Trickett returned the next series and threw on all three downs of a three-and-out. WVU called pass plays on five of the first six snaps of the next series.

"He was fine," said Dawson, who coaches the game from WVU's box above the field.

"My conversation with him, his mindset was always, 'I'm playing.' We took him out basically because at that specific moment in the game, we didn't know if he could take the next rep. But his mentality was he was never coming out of the game."

Trickett passed 50 times and completed 24 for 309 yards and a touchdown, but also two interceptions. The offense went from 2.8 yards per attempt in the 37-0 loss to Maryland to 6.3 yards per attempt against an Oklahoma State defense that encouraged WVU to take its chances over the top of the secondary.

The Mountaineers had 38-, 40- and 44-yard receptions, the first time they had three pass plays of at least 30 yards in a game this season.

"It was apparent the first four games we weren't having fun on offense," Trickett said. "We were pressing and tense. I was just like, 'Let's go have fun and throw some deep balls.' We did that."

WVU also went from six first downs against the Terrapins to 21 against the Cowboys and from 47 snaps to a season-high 90. In practice during the week, Dawson wanted his coaches to let mistakes slide and not interrupt the flow of things by stopping to make corrections.

Dawson thought it would encourage his players to relax more and worry less about errors, but that it would also get the offense in a rhythm they could take to the game.

"I thought we played lot more relaxed and I think the speed of the game and the tempo allowed for that," he said. "It takes a lot of thinking out."

The Mountaineers made mistakes in the game, too. A reconfigured offensive line couldn't consistently protect Trickett, who used his feet to keep many plays alive. The running game totaled 68 yards on 39 attempts. Receivers ran routes that contributed to Trickett's two interceptions. Trickett was even guilty of improvising from before the snap all the way through the whistle.

"There were times out there we ran something we didn't work on all week," Dawson said. "I don't even know what the hell it was, but it worked."

Trickett confessed with a smile and said it was part of the communication problems he still has to overcome, but he said the offense was prepared by practice to make something out of nothing.

"There were some times that happened in the game and we messed up a couple things, but we had so much good momentum, we were going fast, we had a lot of long drives and we were on the ball pretty quickly," he said. "That's adapting and not worrying about the last mistake. Keep moving. Keep on playing."

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