The Good, The Bad, The Ugly WVU Week 2>
We review WVU’s matchup with ECU and where things went well and not so well.
Will Grier seems to be as good as advertised: Two games into the season and the Mountaineers sit at 1-1. Still kinks to be worked out on both sides of the ball, but one thing is for sure, WVU has a Quarterback. As some schools still search for their “guy” under center the Mountaineers have become content with how transfer Quarterback Will Grier has played in his first two games. Grier in two games has a completion percentage of 64, 723 yards passing, eight touchdowns, and an interception. Pretty impressive. After a slow start against Virginia Tech, Grier has not looked back and has been full throttle, finding a favorite target in junior wide receiver David Sills V, while finding a way to still spread the touches amongst his other receivers. As the chemistry continues to build, expect the Mountaineer offense to improve as well.
Have the special teams prayers been answered?: Call it a change of pace or a new direction, but saturday wide receiver Gary Jennings Jr. the usual kick/punt return specialist for WVU did not field a punt saturday, and the results were different. Sophomore speedster Marcus Simms fresh off of suspension brought a new dynamic to the Mountaineer return game. The speedy wide out Simms accumulated 61 yards on two kick returns, and had an impressive 23 yard punt return Saturday. That was the longest punt return of the season thus far, and the best punt return in recent memory for WVU. Although it was one game, it seems like Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and special teams coach Mark Scott found their spark plug.
Will Grier taking too many hits: As impressed as Coach Holgorsen has been with Grier at quarterback, he has not been impressed with the amount of hits his Quarterback has taken. Not by the fault of the offensive line, but it has been Grier’s decision making that has led to the hits he has taken. Late into the second quarter Holgorsen told Grier saturday he would take him out if he took another unwarranted hit. The message was sent loud and clear to Grier as he worked within the pocket, until he came out of the game after his second possession of the third quarter. Holgorsen is not trying to shadow or hide Grier’s athleticism, but protect it, and the best ability is availability.
Still too many questions to be answered on defense: Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson during his time in Morgantown, has always turned nothing into something. He has brought the best out of some of the least talented defenses. This year many expect no difference, but two games in, and the defense has not been horrible, but it has not been best either. This time last year it was evident Rasual Douglas was the No.1 corner who you did not want to try. The linebackers were tackling machines, and the defensive line was solid behind Darrien Howard and Noble Nwachukwu. This year, not much. Defensive lineman was setting up to have a big year, he has played well, but not much noise from the redshirt sophomore as expected. Safety Dravon Askew-Henry has been hovering around the ball making tackles, and Senior linebacker Al Rasheed-Benton has been as good as they come, but what about everyone else? Safety Kyzir White showed up big time saturday with two interceptions, Senior linebacker Xavier Preston, hd a better first game than second. But as you can see consistency is key, and finding it amongst the Mountaineer defense has been a little difficult. Corner Mike Daniels has had two impressive starts to the season, look for him to be the shutdown corner for this years Mountaineer defense.
Has anyone seen the depth?: The Mountaineers look good at most starting positions. Skill position starters (QB, RB, WR, CB, S) all have had impressive showings to start the season. Is there room for improvement of course, but what happens if someone gets hurt? Injuries are the last thing you want to happen to a team, but if someone were to go down at any position, the uncertainty would be at an all-time high. The Mountaineers were not able to experiment with backups in the first game of the season, because of a close game with the Hokies. This past saturday, backups made their way into the game, but it was not impressive. Backup quarterback Chris Chugunov made nine attempts replacing starter Grier. Chugunov completed five of his nine attempts, because of some drops. Holgorsen had mentioned that the backup receivers still need work, but Chugunov missed out on a potential touchdown in the fourth quarter after transfer wide receiver Dominique Maiden struggled to hang on to the ball. That was not the only misconnection amongst the backups, but that is the one that stood out. The defensive backups played well for the most part, until broken coverage which resulted in the last touchdown for ECU. The Mountaineers have one more game before they open up conference play and trim the roster down to 70, it is best Holgorsen finds out what guys fit this week.