MORGANTOWN — Clint Trickett hasn’t been in a live game since the final one of last season against Iowa State.
That doesn’t make the West Virginia quarterback unusual, of course. None of his teammates have been in a real game since then, either.
But pretty much everyone else has at least been in game-like situations, be it in the spring or during August camp. Trickett has been in a handful of game-like situations, but never without a bright gold or red jersey that said to defenders in a position to hit him, “Stop.’’
There will be no such stop sign near Trickett Saturday when the Mountaineers face No. 2 Alabama at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. And that’s fine with the senior quarterback, sort of.
“Yeah,’’ Trickett said when asked if there was any part of him that looked forward to getting hit. “That would be good, as long as it’s nothing too catastrophic.’’
How Trickett holds up to hits — not to mention his ability to avoid them all together — could go a long way toward how successful West Virginia’s offense is this season. When he was healthy last season he was pretty good, but when he wasn’t the offense struggled.
Trickett had shoulder surgery in January and missed all of spring practice.
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West Virginia travels to Atlanta today, but that’s pretty much the only part of this game week that’s new to the team. Coach Dana Holgorsen put the squad through a dry run last week, duplicating almost everything that would happen this week.
That included a mock game last Saturday.
“That’s somewhat tedious. I’d rather get out there and just put the ball down and scrimmage,’’ Holgorsen said. “But there’s so many different situations that you have to put your guys into with substitutions, sidelines stuff and all that.
“Hopefully we got comfortable with how a game week works. Hopefully our distractions are a little less than they were last year with guys having a little bit of an idea what’s expected of them throughout game week.’’
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Save for something unforeseen, safety Dravon Henry figures to get far more playing time than any other true freshman on West Virginia’s roster. And that’s probably a good thing.
“It’s not crazy to start a true freshman. That happens at every program across the country,’’ Holgorsen said. “I think a good indication of the overall health of the program is how many of them you have to use.’’
Here’s another indication of the health of a program — how many true freshmen a team wants to use. If recruiting is good enough there could be several, not because there’s a need as much as because the freshman is so talented.
“I think you get to a point where recruiting continues to improve — and I think it has over the last couple of years — then you’re going to get better bodies that are going to be able to go in there and compete at an early age,” Holgorsen said. “With that said, there’s still a learning curve. Go ahead and look at Alabama’s depth chart. I think they have four or five freshmen there. They’re recruiting at a pretty high level and [the freshmen] are better than the ones that are currently at first or second or third on the depth chart.’’
Holgorsen and the rest of WVU’s coaches saw that in Henry right from the start.
“Yeah, we had a pretty good idea. But we’re talking about a guy that has never taken a snap here,’’ Holgorsen said earlier this week. “We’re going to continue to monitor his progress this week to see how he does at practice and hopefully evaluate how he does throughout the course of the game.’’
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.