CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Clint Trickett made a confession of sorts that might have best been saved for after Nick Saban unleashes Alabama’s defense on the West Virginia quarterback. Trickett’s first kiss was with Saban’s daughter, Kristen.
“I don’t know if I should have said that,” Trickett said earlier this week. “For clarification, we were like 6 years old.”
Trickett’s father, Rick, was LSU’s offensive line coach for one season in 2000 when Saban became the Tigers’ head coach. The elder Trickett left the following season for West Virginia, where he spent six seasons. He’s been the offensive line coach at Florida State since 2007.
Clint Trickett graduated from Florida State last year, transferred to West Virginia and was eligible to play immediately. He started seven games, passing for seven touchdowns with seven interceptions, and underwent offseason surgery in January on his throwing shoulder.
He’ll get the first real test of that repaired shoulder Saturday when the Mountaineers play No. 2 Alabama at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
“Probably the biggest game I’ve been a part of,” Trickett said.
Trickett missed spring practice and so far has had no issues with his arm. Nearly all of the talk has been about his continued grasp of West Virginia’s offense and ability to find any glitches in an Alabama defense that allowed just 13.9 points per game last season.
“Every team has strengths and weaknesses,” Trickett said. “They just happen to have more strengths than weaknesses, and we got to expose those few weaknesses out there.”
In his first start a year ago, Trickett led the Mountaineers to a 30-21 win over then-No. 11 Oklahoma State but otherwise had a forgettable season, completing just 53 percent of his pass attempts as West Virginia finished 4-8.
Trickett threw for more than 250 yards four times, including a season-best 356 yards in a triple-overtime loss to Iowa State. But there also was a 9-for-28 performance against Baylor.
Still, Saban saw enough on film to take notice.
“When Clint Trickett played quarterback last year, I think that he did a really good job for them,” Saban said.
The knock on Trickett was that he had little time to learn the complexities of coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense. Trickett was hampered by an inability to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
“I didn’t fully understand why I wasn’t starting at the beginning of the year last year at the time, but now I do and I wasn’t ready to go,” Trickett said. “Now I am ready to go.”
At the start of fall practice, Holgorsen said Trickett’s sense of urgency was “night and day” compared to any point last year.
“It’s just nice to be able to not have to coach a guy every single play,” Holgorsen said.
West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said Trickett has the chance to silence his doubters.
“I think he’s prepared,” Dawson said. “This camp has been a good one for him. He’s definitely been a different person. He’s just got to go out there and play within himself. Don’t try to go out there and be superman.”