MORGANTOWN, W.Va – West Virginia’s football team is wrapping up its second week of mandatory team workouts, but is still without a fully healthy Clint Trickett.
The second-season transfer quarterback from Florida State, who was 2-5 as WVU’s starter last season, had surgery in January to repair the labrum, AC joint and rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. Coach Dana Holgorsen hopes the right-handed Trickett is cleared in another week.
“He’s better,” Holgorsen said Sunday. “He’s doing some throwing, but they won’t cut him loose for another couple weeks.”
Trickett can still participate in a lot of what the Mountaineers are doing for eight hours a week. The new NCAA rule allowing eight weeks of workouts prohibits anything with a football while under the supervision of the coaches.
Team activities and individual instruction are doable, and the throwing Holgorsen mentioned is done outside the workouts. The Mountaineers and any other team can do that as soon as the day’s mandatory activities are finished.
“Once the coaches walk off the field Tuesday and Thursday, they need to have something resembling a practice,” Holgorsen said. “Everybody in the country does that.”
Those Tuesdays and Thursdays feature an hour of film study with coaches, too, and Trickett isn’t limited there at all. Freshman William Crest, junior college transfer Skyler Howard and rising senior Paul Millard are there for the meetings as well.
“Let’s look back at Clint last year,” Holgorsen said. “We weren’t able to work with Clint until Aug. 1. He was here in June and July and we couldn’t meet with him. There were two months we could have had meetings and watched film and gone over signals and taught him the offense because we could have spent that time together. He missed out on that process and wasn’t really comfortable with it all until October.
“We can’t practice now, but just the interactions we can have is going to get us ahead.”
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THE MOUNTAINEERS are going to use six of the eight weeks, and Holgorsen believes his team can benefit academically as well as athletically. He said the oversight coaches have now will shape kids for college and the classroom.
“Say a kid doesn’t go to class,” he said. “Well, there was nothing we could do to that kid. In February and winter conditioning, if that kid doesn’t go to class, we can get him up at 6 a.m. to give him a reminder why it’s important to go to class. Simple as that, and now the kid’s accountable.
“Not only are these eight hours good for football, but it’s good to make sure the kids are going to class and taking care of what they’re supposed to take care of academically. We can be involved in that. We can check their classes and give them reminders class is important.”
It’s especially important for freshmen taking their first summer classes. WVU welcomed nine freshmen to campus last week and will have about as many arrive for the start of the next session July 1.
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ANOTHER QUARTERBACK on campus is former Fairmont Senior and Fairmont State star Logan Moore, who held his own during spring football and was rewarded with a scholarship in May.
That, though, could be temporary. The same could be true for others recently rewarded, including senior offensive lineman Mike Callichio, senior linebacker Tanner Grose, senior running back Maurice Zereoue, junior linebacker Dayron Wilson and junior cornerback Nana Twume Agyire.
“We like to reward kids for their performance academically as well as athletically,” director of football operations Alex Hammond said.
While it helps kids fit in summer classes and progress toward graduation, it’s not permanent. It’s instead likely they’ll all come off scholarship before the start of the fall semester when WVU’s recruiting class gobbles up scholarships and approaches the limit of 85. Holgorsen said he’ll probably have one or two left over, though that could change if people leave the team or don’t qualify academically. He’ll hand out what remains to the best candidates.
“You don’t want to leave any on the table,” Hammond said, “especially when we can help a kid out with his education.”
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WVU OPENS the season, of course, against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and Holgorsen said the Mountaineers want to play a neutral-site non-conference game against a team from a major conference every year. WVU believes that’s the best way to intrigue fans throughout the summer and build a strong schedule for the College Football Playoff’s selection committee to consider.
“From the financial perspective, it makes sense, too,” Hammond said. “The problem with bowl games is that unless you go to one of the main ones, you’re losing money. Fans have three or four weeks to come up with money and make arrangements. They might not be that excited with City X or Team Y. It’s not attractive to everybody. Playing that opening game, they have years to plan for it and to look forward to it.”
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IF THE Mountaineers choose to use some of the allotted film time preparing for Alabama, Holgorsen said three games will be particularly useful. The Crimson Tide beat Texas A&M and lost to Oklahoma. The Aggies and Sooners are very similar to WVU offensively and both racked up big numbers against the Tide.
Alabama also lost to Auburn, which runs the ball more than WVU passes it, but still gives the Mountaineers looks at how to attack the Alabama defense.
“They’re quite a bit different, but it’s a spread,” Holgorsen said. “It’s more of a run game spread, but it’s up-tempo, the sets are good and there’s a lot of motion. It’ll be good for us.”
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.