It’s taken a spring, a summer, a preseason and seven weeks of game action, but it appears as though West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen has finally settled on a starting quarterback.
Two days after the Mountaineers’ 37-27 home loss to No. 16 Texas Tech, the third-year head coach said on Monday he was mostly pleased with the play of Florida State transfer Clint Trickett and would move ahead planning on his junior controlling the job.
“I do think he played his best game,” said Holgorsen of Trickett, who completed 27 of 43 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown. He avoided an interception but fumbled once when he was hit from behind.
“It was not a winning performance, but I do think he played his best football. He’s healthy, and he’ll be able to rep Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It’s the first time he’s been able to do that in quite some time (because of a shoulder injury suffered late in WVU’s upset of No. 11 Oklahoma State).
“So we’ll give him the majority of the reps and try to get him better.”
West Virginia’s offense, with Trickett leading the way, looked more in sync than it has all season against the Red Raiders. The Mountaineers rushed for 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns, threw for 254 yards and another score and had a stretch in the game where they scored points on five straight possessions.
“We made progress,” said Holgorsen. “I think everybody would agree with that. Texas Tech’s a good defensive football team with seven or eight seniors and a lot of guys coming back. They’re well coached, they were in position and they played hard. With that said, we made some things happen and moved the ball. We scored some points and got the ball in the end zone several times.”
The problem came in the fourth quarter, when WVU had four punts and a turnover on downs in its last five possessions.
“The story of the game was in the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line (Texas Tech) did a better job on all three sides of the ball of making plays,” said Holgorsen. “You’ve got to give them credit for that.
“We played winning football for three quarters (building an 11-point third-quarter lead), but when it got into the fourth quarter, they were a little bit more confident football team than we were, based on the fact that they had won six games and we were 3-3.”
The Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) will be on the road Saturday, traveling to Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan., to face the Snyder-coached Kansas State Wildcats, who are 2-4 overall and 0-3 in Big 12 play. The game will air on Fox Sports 1 at 3:45 p.m. Eastern.
“They’re a team built on discipline,” said Holgorsen of the Wildcats, who tied for the Big 12 title last season and narrowly missed out on a chance of playing in the BCS title game. “They’re going to play hard, and they’re going to be well coached. They’re not always going to be the most talented team, but they’re going to overachieve and play well above their talent level.
“Last year, you had guys that were just flat out the best players on the field — a couple of guys on offense and a couple of guys on defense. It’s the same look. It’s the same Bill Snyder-coached team. I have all the respect in the world for their program and the product he puts out there on the field.”
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The Big 12 Conference announced Monday that WVU’s Nov. 2 game at TCU will be televised on ESPNU and begin at 3:30 p.m.
Cam Huffman is sports editor of The Register-Herald. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.