By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
It’s a little tricky building an appreciation for West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett, who will try to engineer an upset over college football giant Texas this evening while guiding the Mountaineers toward a bowl game … and one somewhere south of the Bronx, New York.
See, quarterbacks are normally football royalty.
They are Elway and Marino and Manning and Staubach on a national scene and even on the local scene, where national championships have evaded the Mountaineers, they are White and Harris and Bulger and Smith and Hostetler.
They come with a golden arm and a million-dollar smile, a winning personality and a string of success as their legacy.
Trickett is different.
He came to WVU from Florida State, where he never really was the starter and seemed, instead, to represent the perfect backup … except that he had something to prove to himself and wasn’t going to prove it behind Jameis Winston, who may just be the Heisman Trophy winner.
So, he came home to West Virginia, which fit him a whole lot better than did Florida State.
While most quarterbacks are football royalty, Trickett is one of the common folks.
“I’m a little different than most quarterbacks in that my dad is an offensive line coach and I’m into running the ball. Running the ball put food on the table for the longest time for us. Whatever you’ve got to do to win, I’m for it,” he said this week.
His father, of course, is Rick Trickett, a Chihuahua of a coach working with the Great Danes of the sport, a character of man who teaches the game tough and teaches it right, which is how Trickett learned it before coming across Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid offense.
Had Trickett passed one more course at FSU, things might have been different here this year for he would have gotten his diploma before the summer and been in for spring practice, but since he missed that he got a late start and never really caught up.
So far behind was he, coming from an offense run on a completely different philosophy, that he wasn’t ready to start at the beginning of the year and actually followed Paul Millard and Ford Childress, not starting until the fifth game.
Even at that he frustrated Holgorsen beyond imagination in his inability to get the plays from the sideline to the point that Holgorsen put that part of the offense on hold until he could go through an off-season of working on it.
This was surprising because Holgorsen had boasted that the entire offense could be put in quickly at the start of the year, just three days and then three repetitions.
“It is different for quarterbacks,” he says now. “He (Trickett) reacts to the game of football well. It is frustrating for me and him to have miscommunication. There are a lot of issues that are not going to get ironed out until the offseason.”
Waiting until the offseason takes much of the pressure off everyone.
“This will allow him to watch film and learn from his mistakes. With that said, last week he played his best quarter of football in the fourth quarter after a horrible third quarter,” Holgorsen said.
And that was important to Holgorsen.
“That is because he does not get rattled and reacts to the game of football well, which is one thing I love about him. He does not always understand what we are talking about, or where we want him to go with the ball, but he reacts well to the game of football and coaching well.
“We need to get four quarters of what he did in the fourth last week in order to win on Saturday.”
Trickett is looking forward to the first night home game of the season, knowing it will bring a lot of memories back to a kid who grew up here watching such games play out rather than ahaving been part of them.
“I remember when we beat Virginia Tech in 2003, the Louisville game … so many night games. I think when we beat Rutgers in overtime when they had Ray Rice was my last one,” he said. “A lot of games, a lot of good memories.”
And now he has a chance to give the kids growing up in Morgantown and the area as he plays quarterback the same kinds of memories he brings to the game with him.
“It will be exciting,” he said. “You can’t put too much into it, though. You’ve still got to play the game. At some point you want to look at it and realize the situation you are in. It’s going to be hard not to get caught up in the emotion, but that’s my job, to stay even keel.”
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.