Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Trickett is ‘No. 1 difference’ for Mountaineers’ offense

Clint Trickett set a career high in passing yards — for a second straight game — and looked like the player his coaches and teammates spoke so glowingly about throughout a month of preseason practices.

The West Virginia quarterback led the offense down the field a few times against one of college football’s best defenses Saturday, and did it sometimes with a pace that gave Alabama problems. He threw deep and short passes, he threw tight and touch passes, and he never once winced in a way that made observers question the stability of his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.

Trickett was not perfect. He missed open receivers for first downs and touchdowns and he checked down to a running back on fourth-and-12 on WVU’s final play of the game. Yet he was far from the 2013 version and free of many of the variables that contributed to his 2-5 record as the starter.

The implication seemed obvious: It’s time to start looking differently at this quarterback and, by extension, this offense.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Trickett is ‘No. 1 difference’ for Mountaineers’ offense.

The Charleston Gazette | Dave Hickman: Jury still out on WVU run game

So just what happened to the running game that was supposed to be the one thing above all else that West Virginia’s offense could depend upon this season?

No, the Mountaineers never pretended they were going to be some version of 1970s-era Nebraska or even a 2000s version of WVU. That’s not what Dana Holgorsen’s offense is about.

But with a deep and talented stable of five tailbacks and three more quality fullbacks, the run game was supposed to be, at the very least, what kept defenses honest. Rushel Shell and Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood (and perhaps even Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison) would always provide a fresh set of legs.

Holgorsen’s best offenses have always been the ones that were balanced like that, and this was a running game that would produce that balance.

And then in the opener against No. 2 Alabama Saturday it produced 28 yards.

via The Charleston Gazette | Dave Hickman: Jury still out on WVU run game.

The Charleston Gazette | Attitude, energy good as Mountaineers eye Towson

As it turns out, Dana Holgorsen’s job didn’t become that difficult Sunday after all.

That was the day the West Virginia coach had pointed to more than once during the preseason. It was the day after the Mountaineers were to play Alabama and the fear was that regardless of the outcome, after pointing to one of the best teams in the country all through the preseason, WVU would then have to forget it and move on.

“I was happy with Sunday. I thought the attitude and the energy was good on Sunday,’’ Holgorsen said. “I would anticipate that [today, when practice resumes] will be the same way.’’

West Virginia put up a solid showing against No. 2 Alabama before losing 33-23. Now the attention turns to a Saturday night game against Towson. The two couldn’t be much different — Alabama a national championship contender on the FBS level and Towson rebuilding after a rather surprising run to the FCS title game in 2013.

via The Charleston Gazette | Attitude, energy good as Mountaineers eye Towson.

Big 12 Teleconference: Holgorsen Wraps Up ‘Bama, Looks Ahead

West Virginia Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen spoke with the media through the Big 12 Teleconference on Monday morning. Below is the list of questions and answers between reporters and Holgorsen throughout the call:

Q: Assess the state of the Big 12 Conference after WVU's and Oklahoma State's close losses to No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 Florida State, respectively.

A: “I can't speak for Coach Gundy, but I'd imagine that his answer would be similar when it comes to our games. We're disappointed that we weren't able to pull the game out. There was a good opportunity for both of us. Both had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter but came up a little bit short. As far as the state of the Big 12, it hasn't changed my opinion on it one way or another. I've been a part of this conference for about 15 years and see the health of the conference as good as it ever has been. I think we've got a bunch of teams that will be able to compete on a national level regardless of who we play.”

via Big 12 Teleconference: Holgorsen Wraps Up ‘Bama, Looks Ahead – WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News – Mountaineer Sports.

WV MetroNews – Monday morning stock report: Is West Virginia trending upward?

Examining the ups-and-downs from West Virginia’s performance in a closer-than-expected 33-23 loss to No. 2 Alabama:

QUARTERBACK

Clint Trickett operated the offense at a Holgorsen-approved tempo and didn’t make a single egregious decision. He deserved a 400-yard day but settled for 365 on 29-of-45 completions.

“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 and missed some throws, but when you’re looking at what he’s looking at, that’s going to happen. (Alabama is) obviously pretty good defensively and do a good job of getting to the quarterback at times.”

via WV MetroNews – Monday morning stock report: Is West Virginia trending upward?.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers a mixed bag against Alabama

Sunday came and went here with the West Virginia players filing in early in the morning to get whatever physical treatment was needed after Saturday’s 33-23 loss to No. 2 Alabama.

It was the mental treatment that was worrying coach Dana Holgorsen.

Last week.

Four days before his fourth season started with the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game before 70,502 inside the Georgia Dome, Holgorsen forecasted a forthcoming uphill battle

“I’ve said this a few times: I believe my biggest coaching challenge will be Sunday, regardless of what happens on Saturday, whether we’re successful or not,” he said. “I think the bigger coaching challenge is going to be on Sunday and getting these guys to overcome what happened, whether it’s positive or negative.”

The season-opening loss, WVU’s first since 2003, did indeed leave the team in a peculiar position. The Mountaineers did plenty of things well enough on offense, defense and even special teams, but also made enough mistakes to contribute mightily to their demise. Afterward, Holgorsen knew Sunday would be as tough as he anticipated.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers a mixed bag against Alabama.

Charleston Daily Mail | Chuck McGill: Opener shows how far WVU has come

It wasn’t all peachy during West Virginia’s visit to Georgia.

There were ill-timed drops, off-the-mark throws, a defense that allowed 500-plus yards of offense for the eighth time under fourth-year football coach Dana Holgorsen and one unfathomable unsportsmanlike penalty call that reshaped the course of an Alabama drive.

But even though WVU had two first-and-goal situations stall for field goals instead of touchdowns, even though the second-ranked Crimson Tide had a pair of 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver, there’s plenty of reason to believe this Mountaineers’ team is ripe for a better, more competitive season.

In fact, let’s start with the score. A regular-season non-conference opponent hadn’t played Alabama that close in five seasons, a span of 20 games. The last time was also here in the Georgia Dome, a 34-24 Crimson Tide win over the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2009 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

That VT team was ranked fifth, though, as opposed to the unranked Mountaineers who played here Saturday in front of a crowd of 70,502.

via Charleston Daily Mail | Chuck McGill: Opener shows how far WVU has come.

The Charleston Gazette | Holgorsen focused on avoiding letdown

It would be easy, perhaps, for West Virginia’s football team — not to mention its supporters — to get wrapped up in what can only be regarded as a positive performance in Saturday’s season opener against No. 2 Alabama.

Still trying to shake the effects of a disastrous prior season, the Mountaineers didn’t beat the most successful program in recent college football history, but a 33-23 loss in which they had the ball with a chance to tie in the fourth quarter was encouraging.

There must be a warning message broadcast, however, and Dana Holgorsen was the first to do so in the wake of Saturday’s loss at the Georgia Dome: WVU has been there, done that. And the last time it didn’t work out so well.

It was just last year.

“I told them this is a very similar situation to last year at Oklahoma,’’ Holgorsen said of his talk to his team following Saturday’s loss in Atlanta. “And from there we didn’t improve very much. We’ve got to motivate this team to be able to get back to work to improve from what we put out there [against Alabama].’’

via The Charleston Gazette | Holgorsen focused on avoiding letdown.

The Charleston Gazette | WVU notebook: Mountaineers weren’t lacking confidence vs. Tide

If nothing else, there was confidence in the air when West Virginia took the field against Alabama Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

In fact, there may have been cockiness as the Mountaineers prepared to take on the No. 2 Crimson Tide. When the teams first took the field as full units about 30 minutes before kickoff, a group of WVU players charged to the 50-yard line — as players these days are wont to do — in an effort to get Alabama’s attention.

The Tide players ignored them, which is what disciplined teams do.

But there was more than just cockiness in the Mountaineers. They seemed entirely bought in to the idea that if they weren’t Alabama’s equal, they could at least compete on the same level.

And four hours later, after losing 33-23, they’d really done nothing to indicate they weren’t right about that.

via The Charleston Gazette | WVU notebook: Mountaineers weren’t lacking confidence vs. Tide.

Football Notebook: Positive Signs – WVU Athletics

It wasn’t a winning performance on Saturday against the nation’s No. 2-ranked football team, but there was certainly a lot that coach Dana Holgorsen can build upon following his team’s 33-23 loss to Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

“I was proud with how we fought. We were ready to play,” said Holgorsen. “We felt like we could come in and give them a good game and put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win and when that happens you’ve got to make critical plays in critical situations. You’ve got to make critical calls in critical situations and you need to have a little bit more success than we had tonight.”

West Virginia did move the football against a defense that has historically been tough to move the ball against, the Mountaineers finishing the game with 393 total yards against an Alabama D that has held its opposition to fewer than 300 total yards 64 percent of the time under coach Nick Saban.

However, in confined spaces where the yards are much tougher to get, West Virginia once again struggled.

via Football Notebook: Positive Signs – WVU Athletics.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers miss opportunities, fall to No. 2 Alabama in season opener

Up until one momentous, prolonged and ultimately decisive sequence Saturday, West Virginia withstood Alabama and many of the challenges that come with opening the season in a neutral-site game that feels a little like a road game against the nation’s No. 2-ranked team.

It was the trouble the Mountaineers brought on themselves that would cost them so dearly.

They bobbled important possessions inside the Alabama 30-yard line in the third and fourth quarters with poor plays by quarterbacks and receivers and couldn’t keep up with the Crimson Tide’s rising wave of offense. Alabama capitalized to come away with a 33-23 win in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game before 70,502 inside the Georgia Dome.

“We’ve got to be better in critical situations, especially against a really good football team,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “You can’t miss opportunities like that and win. Everybody chipped in. Those critical downs keep drives alive and get you points, and at the end we failed in those critical situations.”

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers miss opportunities, fall to No. 2 Alabama in season opener.

Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Trickett, White connect for career days in loss to Alabama

West Virginia University seniors Clint Trickett and Kevin White worked together to establish personal bests in Saturday’s 33-23 loss to Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game here at the Georgia Dome.

Trickett, a 6-foot-2, 186-pound quarterback and White, a 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver, connected nine times for 143 yards against the historically stingy Crimson Tide defense. Alabama ranked No. 5 in total defense last season, but Trickett threw for a career-best 365 yards and White had the most receptions (nine) and yards (143) of his WVU career.

Trickett finished 29 for 45 passing with one touchdown ­— a 19-yarder to White in the second quarter — and zero interceptions. Trickett’s previous best for passing yardage was 356 in last season’s loss to Iowa State. The 29 completions against Alabama is also a personal best.

“I was happy with Clint,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I thought he played well, he competed well. He knew where to go with the ball.

via Charleston Daily Mail | WVU FOOTBALL: Trickett, White connect for career days in loss to Alabama.

The Charleston Gazette | Mitch Vingle: The lamb had some spunk

Let’s answer one question quickly and get this out of the way.

Yes, West Virginia scored a moral victory on Saturday in its 33-23 loss to No. 2 Alabama at the Georgia Dome.

The Mountaineers were led to the Dome as a sacrificial lamb, placed on national television and played before a stadium crowd of 70,502, fifth-largest in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game history.

Yet the lamb had a little bite.

This was nothing like 1994, when WVU was likewise led to one of these deals. The Mountaineers went to the Meadowlands that year and were scorched by Nebraska 31-0.

That was embarrassing for the program. Saturday’s decision was not.

Saturday’s Mountaineer performance, in fact, showed a few things.

First, it showed the players on this team have worked to improve. And improve they have.

via The Charleston Gazette | Mitch Vingle: The lamb had some spunk.

The Charleston Gazette | WVU notebook: Mountaineers not discouraged

After WVU’s effort against No. 2 Alabama, Mountaineer players and coaches were anything but happy.

Yet they weren’t totally displeased either.

“I thought we played really well tonight, but not good enough to win,” Clint Trickett, WVU’s quarterback, said after the 33-23 loss at the Georgia Dome. “That’s the bottom line. A lot of people were probably surprised by how well we played, but we weren’t. We had a lot of confidence heading into this game. We did a good job responding to adversity, but didn’t capitalize when we had opportunities.”

Trickett finished 29 of 45 passing with no interceptions and one touchdown.

“It’s the first game of the season,” he said. “We looked good on offense. There’s always question marks, but we believed we could win. It gives us confidence to know we can win games like this. We know we can drive on anyone.”

via The Charleston Gazette | WVU notebook: Mountaineers not discouraged.

Alabama Outlasts West Virginia – WVU Athletics

There was plenty of action in today’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and it involved both teams this afternoon.

As expected, heavily favored Alabama won, but it wasn’t a walk in the park – far from it. The Crimson Tide (1-0) needed three touchdown runs from T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, and four Adam Griffith field goals to hold off uncooperative West Virginia, 33-23, Saturday at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

“I’m not interested in moral victories. We've been working hard to put ourselves in a position to get a win,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We played hard and we felt like we put ourselves in a position to win.”

“I think you have to give West Virginia a lot of credit,” added Alabama coach Nick Saban. “I was really pleased with the way we controlled the ball on offense.”

via Alabama Outlasts West Virginia – WVU Athletics.

VIDEO INTERVIEWS: WVU Players Following Loss to No. 2 Alabama

Watch full video interviews with West Virginia Football Players following the 33-23 loss to Alabama in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

via VIDEO INTERVIEWS: WVU Players Following Loss to No. 2 Alabama – WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News – Mountaineer Sports.

WATCH: WVU Coach Holgorsen Talks About Loss to Alabama

Watch West Virginia Head Football Coach, Dana Holgorsen's, postgame press conference following the Mountaineers loss to Alabama in Atlanta. 

via WATCH: WVU Coach Holgorsen Talks About Loss to Alabama – WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News – Mountaineer Sports.

WV MetroNews – Mountaineers only catch whiff of Tide’s slippery QB

West Virginia sent waves of rushers at the new Alabama quarterback, and Blake Sims kept dodging them.

The replacement for the Crimson Tide’s all-time wins leader A.J. McCarron made enough throws from the pocket and sidestepped blitzers when they came free. Sims threw for 250 yards and ran for 42, which was more than West Virginia amassed as a team.

“He was a little more elusive than I thought,” said Tony Gibson, the Mountaineers’ first-time defensive coordinator.

via WV MetroNews – Mountaineers only catch whiff of Tide’s slippery QB.

The Charleston Gazette | Mountaineers open with mighty Alabama

West Virginia begins its 2014 football season here today in far from what could be considered enviable or optimal conditions.

Yes, the Mountaineers have been presented with a huge opportunity. It’s a game against the single most dominant college football program of the past five years. The mere fact that Alabama, today’s foe in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome (3:30 p.m., ABC) is ranked No. 2 seems almost a glitch. The Tide has spent far more time at No. 1 over that span than any other team and has won three of the last five national championships.

Still, opportunity is one thing. Taking advantage of that opportunity is quite another.

West Virginia goes into the game — and the season — having won just four games last year and only six times in the last 20. That’s the worst 20-game stretch for the school since Frank Cignetti’s teams won just three of 20 during a period spanning the 1977-79 seasons.

via The Charleston Gazette | Mountaineers open with mighty Alabama.

Men’s Soccer Scores Season-Opening Win – WVU Athletics

The West Virginia University men’s soccer team opened its 2014 season with a 1-0 win against St. John’s on Friday evening in front of 1,699 fans at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

“We talked about this year being different from last year and righting some of the wrongs,” coach Marlon LeBland said. “We had to grind, it was pretty at times and it was ugly at times. I think we did enough to get the job done and it was a just result.”

The win was just the third in 15 tries against the Red Storm, and the first since the Big East Tournament in 2004.

“We played really well for a lot of that game,” LeBlanc says. “They caused us some problems with the long ball that they were hitting in, but we made the right adjustments and took it away from them.”

via Men’s Soccer Scores Season-Opening Win – WVU Athletics.