When you look at the numbers, it is almost difficult to find an explanation for how the West Virginia Mountaineers were able to hang with the Alabama Crimson Tide in their Week 1 matchup. For the Mountaineers to accomplish what they did, you would have expected them to have done it mostly through capitalizing on Alabama’s mistakes. But that wasn’t actually the case. The Mountaineers were mostly able to play with Alabama this weekend almost entirely because of the performance of QB Clint Trickett.
The Crimson Tide left very little doubt that they were the better team in this one. The Mountaineers hung tough, but Alabama held onto the ball over 15 minutes longer than West Virginia and out-gained them to the tune of 538 yards to 393. The difference was mainly in Alabama’s domination of the running game. The Tide rang up 288 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Meanwhile, West Virginia managed only 28 rushing yards on 1.2 yards per carry.
Almost all of the statistics scream blowout. There were two exceptions: 1.) the final score and 2.) West Virginia’s passing yards.
Trickett turned in an incredible performance against what is sure to be one of the top defenses in the country. He went 29-for-45 for 365 yards and a touchdown, while averaging 8.1 yards per pass. The numbers that Trickett put up were pretty particularly amazing when you consider that his team only had possession of the ball for 22 minutes.
West Virginia’s offense likes to move fast. But to do that, particularly against a great defense, you need the quarterback to be very efficient, and Trickett was. That allowed the Mountaineers to run nearly 80 plays and keep up with the Crimson Tide despite having the ball for 15 fewer minutes.
While Trickett struggled at times last year, this week’s performance showed that he has taken a huge leap forward in his development and understanding of Dana Holgorsen‘s offense. It will be interesting to see what he does against the defenses in the Big 12, which will not play ball-control offense and keep West Virginia off the field. Trickett could be heading for a huge year.