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WVU notebook: Trickett finds groove against Alabama

| Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, 5:03 p.m.

In his fifth year as a college quarterback, at his second program, has Clint Trickett finally arrived?

Backing up E.S. Manuel and losing out to Jameis Winston at Florida State, then transferring to West Virginia and getting his shoulder banged up and suffering a concussion while wrestling with a new system is not a preferred career path. But Trickett, slightly built at 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, looked close to the real deal in Saturday's 33-23 loss to Alabama in Atlanta.

Facing a defense that has room to improve but is still pretty good, Trickett got mostly solid protection and completed 64 percent of his passes for 365 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Last season, the Mountaineers' 32 turnovers ranked 118th among FBS schools.

Trickett, who was sacked twice, had some errant tosses. His receivers dropped a few, too. Some of his throws were beauties, like the 19-yard touchdown over two defenders to Kevin White, the only one of the three who could have caught the ball.

Trickett, who struggled with injuries and the newness of everything while starting seven games in 2013, talked throughout the preseason about the “night-and-day” difference. WVU coach Dana Holgorsen sees it, too.

“Yeah, my comfort level was obviously better than it's been,” Holgorsen said. “It's nice to be able to signal things once and be able to communicate with him as far as what we're wanting on the sidelines without having to scream it at him or call time out or whatever.

“I was happy with Clint. I thought he played well. He competed well. He knew where to go with the ball. He got a little bit antsy back there at times, but when you're looking at what you're looking at, that's going to happen. They're obviously pretty good defensively and do a good job getting to the quarterback at times.”

No pressure

WVU's 3-3 stack defense, which features disguising blitzes and blitzing from all angles, failed to sack Alabama quarterback Blake Sims, who rarely was bothered in his first college start.

Alabama's massive, talented offensive line likely contributed, and so did Sims' elusiveness. He began his college career as a running back.

But the WVU defense figured in the mix, too. Last season, the Mountaineers recorded only 16 sacks, six by defensive end (and Allderdice grad) Will Clarke, a third-round draft pick who made the Bengals' 53-man roster.

Holgorsen said Sims “made a lot of people miss,” but added, “It wasn't a winning effort when it comes to getting to the quarterback. ... Getting to the quarterback was something we worked hard on in the off-season, and it looked to me like we've got to keep doing it.”

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bcohn@tribweb.com.

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