FORT WORTH, Texas - Shannon Dawson meant no harm, but when West Virginia's offensive coordinator offered a hefty high five to congratulate Clint Trickett for the way the quarterback played in Saturday's overtime win at TCU, the gesture made Trickett's eyes widen and then slam shut.
Perhaps it was pain still present four games and five weeks after he sprained the AC joint in his right arm. Maybe it was that the Mountaineers put so much on Trickett's shoulders in the 30-27 win.
In his fifth consecutive start, Trickett was asked to attack the TCU defense that led the Big 12 in sacks and interceptions and is known to blanket receivers across the field. The Mountaineers called 44 pass plays, a nifty array of quick pitches, deep shots, screens and complicated play action throws.
"I thought that was probably Clint's best game as far as pocket presence," said Dawson, who is also the quarterbacks coach.
"One thing we preached all week was pocket presence. He didn't do a great job last week. We got a little crazy at times and it cost us, but I thought this week he did a good job sitting in the pocket and going through his reads. When we asked him to extend plays, he did," Dawson said.
Trickett completed 25 of his 41 pass attempts for 267 yards and two touchdowns in the 30-27 win. He was sacked three times and threw two interceptions but he also helped WVU play with the most consistent tempo in weeks.
He completed 11-of-14 passes for 142 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"Clint really improved this week," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I didn't think he played all that well last week, but I thought he was much better this week.
"The thing we talked a lot about was putting the ball in play and trying to get completions, which means throwing and catching it when you're covered. I thought we were pretty good there."
The Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) were able to carry out their game plan, which was designed to create a variety of opportunities with the passing game. Trickett started off by firing passes to receivers at the line of scrimmage right after the snap.
"They played their safeties deeper than we were anticipating," Holgorsen said.
TCU (3-6, 1-5) plays with five defensive backs and three safeties, and the easy throws and catches made the Horned Frogs step forward to make sure they could get to the receiver quickly.