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June 24, 2014

Holgorsen names Trickett starting QB 

MORGANTOWN — The battle for West Virginia’s starting quarterback job ended before it started Tuesday as coach Dana Holgorsen surprisingly named Clint Trickett the starter entering the 2014 season without a competition through August camp.

“Clint is 100 percent healthy and is ready to play,” Holgorsen said in a release put out by the school. “He worked hard last season and showed a lot of ability and leadership and deserves the chance to lead the team as a senior. He will be our starter.”

That Trickett will start is not really surprising. He was the best of WVU’s quarterbacks a year ago while playing with an injured throwing shoulder that would require post-season surgery.

The timing of the announcement, however, was out of character for Holgorsen.

He has been anything but open with his decisions on who would play, often last year making the announcement of his starting quarterback when he was playing the game of musical quarterbacks with Trickett, Paul Millard and Ford Childress on his radio show on Thursday night.

To announce Trickett a month before camp opens and two months before the Alabama game obviously is to put an end to all speculation and take any pressure off the veteran QB, who transferred from Florida State to play his final two years at home.

It also takes any pressure off incoming freshman William Crest to believe he has to get himself ready to start against Alabama as his collegiate debut. If Trickett plays well and remains healthy, it would be fair to expect Crest would redshirt this season.

Trickett missed spring practice as his shoulder healed, meaning he needs to get as many reps as possible during camp to not only strengthen the shoulder but also to get his timing down with a new group of receivers who are not used to him throwing the ball at his best.

The truth is Trickett was never really at his best last season.

The son of former WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who is an assistant coach for Jimbo Fisher at national champion FSU, Trickett missed spring practice last season, along with summer work, not joining the Mountaineers until camp opened.

While Holgorsen had preached that it would not take any quarterback long to work their way into his system, Trickett never did catch on and when the season opened he wasn’t ready to take over the starting job.

That left it to Childress, a redshirt freshman who had never played college game, and Millard, neither of whom ever really showed a mastery of Holgorsen’s system.

Trickett finally was put into the starting spot against No. 11 Oklahoma State and led the Mountaineers to an upset victory, 30-24. If it wasn’t a “Geno Smithian” performance, going 24-of-50 for 309 yards with a touchdown was enough to offer hope.

However, Trickett also injured his shoulder in the game and never was right the rest of the way.

He did, however, show much of what they had been hoping for in the season’s final game against Iowa State, completing 21-of-37 for 356 yards and two TDs in another disappointing loss that ended a 4-8 season.

With Trickett out over the spring, the door was left ajar for Millard, California, junior college-transfer Skylar Howard or former Fairmont State quarterback Logan Moore to convince Holgorsen they could play well enough to compete for the job when the new season opened.

Moore, who had been moved to wide receiver last year, actually played better than either of the other two quarterbacks and, considering that he also offered a threat running the ball, it was thought he might get a shot.

It appears now that Moore can expect nothing more than a backup slot, maybe not even at No. 2 if they opt to use him running the scout team. That would truly disappoint him after the impression he made in the spring.

“With the work that I’ve put in and what I’ve done, I think they have to give me a shot. I’m looking forward to it,” Moore said after the spring game.

The problem is that there’s no guarantees with Trickett, as offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson noted this spring when he spoke about the situation.

“He’s a light kid,” Dawson said. “That’s really the evaluation of him I had when I talked to him after the season. When he’s healthy, he functions pretty good. Look at the games he was healthy in. But when you start getting banged up, you can’t function at a high level. When he got banged up, he struggled.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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Marissa Pulice, community coordinator for Energy Express, helps students in the program create felt cat toys during a community-service project last week.

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