By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
Artistically, Clint Trickett’s debut as West Virginia University’s starting quarterback will be looked upon more as a Picasso than a Rembrandt.
But it certainly was a one-of-a-kind that brought a Mona Lisa smile to the mouths of West Virginia fans everywhere, especially those who have been clamoring for coach Dana Holgorsen to start him ever since he transferred home from Florida State.
Holgorsen didn’t make the move until he really had no choice, having already started his other two quarterbacks and come up with nothing to show for it except 7 points in a pair of losses to Oklahoma and Maryland, the last one resulting in a 37-0 defeat to the Terrapins and a torn pectoral muscle for Ford Childress.
With No. 11 Oklahoma State coming to town, it was play Trickett, ready or not, for Holgorsen, and it led to a wonderfully animated afternoon of football that resulted in one of WVU’s more memorable upsets, 30-21, over the nearly three-touchdown favored Cowboys.
Trickett was not Geno Smith and, he would admit, “I ain’t Pat White, that’s for sure.”
But he was good enough to complete 24 of 50 passes, many of them thrown with an aching shoulder he had injured but wasn’t going to let drive him to the sidelines.
“That’s part of the game,” he said. “You play through it. We are always harping on TEAM. T is for Tough in TEAM.”
He threw for a touchdown to Kevin White, who made a miraculous catch, and totaled 309 yards, every one of them needed.
No, that’s not his game and, if his interplay with Holgorsen is any indication, these next two years are going to be a lot of fun for their communication was lacking on occasion and nothing bothers Holgorsen more than that.
“I threw a couple of temper tantrums, which I am quite embarrassed about, but it is just the communication that needs to get better,” Holgorsen said.
One such time was when Trickett took a delay-of-game penalty after hurting his shoulder.
“If you get hurt, lie down and let someone tend to you,” Holgorsen said. “He was slow getting to the huddle, and communication was not very good, so it took longer to get the play in.”
But all was forgiven because Trickett gutted it out, hustled, evaded the pass rush and hit passes when he had to.
The result was that in the end Trickett had a dream come true.
The son of Rick Trickett, a former WVU assistant coach now at Florida State who grew up in Morgantown, Trickett got to stand on the field following the upset, his childhood friend Tyler Anderson, a WVU linebacker next to him, singing “Country Roads” with his teammates and the crowd.
“That was pretty cool,” said Trickett.
And it happened because Trickett did what he does best, and that is improvise.
“Clint did a great job of keeping plays alive,” Holgorsen said. “I had sense he could do. He’s been getting better and better and better.”
It was cornerback Ishmael Banks who actually got WVU rolling.
Down 7-0 in the first quarter when J.W. Walsh hit Josh Stewart on 73-yard touchdown pass, Banks stepped in front of Stewart the next time Walsh went for him and intercepted and ran it back 58 yards for the tying score.
“This gave us some pep in our step and some swagger. It showed we can play with everyone,” Banks said.
After that Trickett took over, helped by a great catch from Kevin White for his first collegiate touchdown to give WVU a 14-7 lead, followed by the first of three Josh Lambert field goals to make it 17-7.
Walsh hit Tracy More with a 27-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 3 but before halftime Charles Sims blasted in from the 1 to allow WVU to go into the locker room leading 24-14.
The only score in third quarter was a 30-yard pass from Walsh to Jeremy Seaton to narrow it to 24-21, but WVU got a huge break when Ben Grogan’s 23-yard attempt at a tying field goal hit the upright.
That gave the Mountaineers some breathing room and Lambert put the game away with a pair of fourth-quarter field goals.
And so it was a difficult week of unrest was put to bed.
“It was a tough week,” Holgorsen said following the game. “The whole week was challenging. I am really proud of our team, though. The coaches and the players stayed the course.
“I want to compliment our fans. I thought they did a phenomenal job. There was a lot of talk about people giving up on this team, that we were going to get blown out. I did not sense that out on Mountaineer Field, and the fans were as good as I have seen them,”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.