The Times West Virginian

October 1, 2013

Quarterback injuries raise questions

By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — Perhaps you should pull up a chair and sit down for a moment, because you are not going to enjoy what you are about to read.

Remember the quarterback you adopted as your very own this past Saturday, the kid named Clint Trickett, the one who kept finding ways to get the job done whereas no one had filled that role before him had produced much in the way of success?

Well, he may not play next Saturday night against Baylor.

No, Dana Holgorsen has not lost his mind. In fact, you can almost bet that if there is any way Holgorsen can get him out there to start the game, he will, but as this week started, Trickett was nursing an injured arm.

The kind of injury? Holgorsen didn’t say.

The extent of the injury? He didn’t say that either.

And, oh, if Trickett can’t play, it’s highly possible that Ford Childress can’t either.

Childress, you will recall, won the job away from Paul Millard two games into the season, played pretty well in beating a dreadful Georgia State game, then played dismally due to a torn pectoral muscle in the 37-0 Maryland debacle.

Even though Holgorsen had declared Childress his quarterback for the season, even after Maryland, it became rapidly apparent that Childress would not be able to make it against Oklahoma State, unable to throw the football 10 feet on Tuesday night.

Well, it wasn’t much different on Sunday night following the stunning victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State, only not only couldn’t Childress throw the ball, neither could Trickett.

“They are both banged up,” Holgorsen admitted on Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call. “Clint got banged up a little bit on the right side of his arm. I don’t know how they will react to that. I have to wait until tomorrow when we get back out on the practice field to see how he is, to see how Ford is.

“We had a practice Sunday night where we just had one healthy quarterback in Paul Millard.”

And, the way Holgorsen spoke, he wouldn’t be surprised if he had to go with Millard or Childress.

The truth is, Holgorsen would prefer to have a healthy Trickett to build upon what he started in the Oklahoma State upset, giving the offense a personality, if not the smooth, flawless play that came so often with Geno Smith a year ago.

Asked to describe Trickett’s performance, Holgorsen approached it this way.

“He reacted well. I was happy with how he reacted. I kind of had a sense he was going to do that just because he has experience and has been around the game his whole life,” Holgorsen said.

That is not to say Trickett was anywhere near where he wants his quarterback to be.

“How we coach offense is foreign to him. How we play offense is foreign to him,” Holgorsen said. “It is going to take some time to really grasp it, and we’ve known that. But being able to get him out there and watch him react to the game of football, he did well.

“He got the ball out of his hands. He kept the play alive. He kept his eyes downfield. He got knocked around a little but that doesn’t bother him. He jumps back up and gets ready to play the next snap.”

Much better will be needed against Baylor, which may just be the class of the Big 12, but it might come because Holgorsen not only found an answer to the quarterback problem, but shuffled the offensive line and it responded.

“I was real proud of the O-line. We got some older guys in there. Having Clint out there gave our guys a sense of calmness out there because he’s got experience,” he said.

“We challenged them. It still doesn’t look very good. We got a lot of work to do on the offensive side. I’ve said this since Day 1 with the offense. I don’t know when the finished product is going to be available for people to see, but we’re far from being there at this point.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.