Neal Brown is searching for answers to get his team back on track during a much-needed bye week following a 2-4 (0-3) start to the season. A big part of West Virginia's downfall has been the inconsistency at the quarterback position. Back in April, Brown tabbed starting quarterback Jarret Doege as the team's "most improved player" but he has been hot and cold throughout the first six games and when he's bad, it's really bad.
With the offense in a bit of a funk, Brown has started to implement a two-quarterback system that involves redshirt freshman Garrett Greene. However, there doesn't seem to be a pattern for how he subs Greene into the game. He goes more off of feel and I'm not sure that his "feel" for it is where it needs to be. For example, In the Texas Tech game, Doege leads the team right down the field, gets them to 1st & goal and Brown decides to sub in Greene. Not only did Doege have the hot hand but Brown also called the wrong play (a Doege play for Greene) which forced Brown to waste a timeout.
Over the last couple of weeks, fans have been pounding their fist at the table for Brown to just go ahead and make the switch, starting Greene full-time. I figured going into the bye week with a 2-4 record that the fan base may see their wish come true. From what I gathered from Neal's statements on Tuesday, it appears as if no change will be made.
"I don't think playing Garrett [Greene] has hampered him [Jarret Doege]," Brown said. "Jarret has just been a little inconsistent. I thought he competed really hard on Saturday. He had a couple of really good scrambles, he threw the ball away under pressure a couple of times. But he missed some down in the red zone where we could have scored touchdowns but we just didn't take advantage of those. Garrett, I thought his run reads were much improved on Saturday against Baylor. He's got to do what he's coached to do in the passing game. I'm all for the freelance but he's got to go to one to two [reads] before he takes off and runs. On Saturday, he just took a drop and then ran. The struggle with him is the receiver group is playing by far and away the best group on the offense right now and he's got to be able to utilize them. They're open when he's playing but he's got to find a way to get them the ball because that's the most productive position group right now."
Making a switch of quarterbacks has to be made with confidence that the new starter will succeed throughout the entirety of a game and Brown is not that at that point just yet with Garrett Greene. It's easy to sit back and say just start the younger quarterback and grow with him but Brown, although 2-4, is more worried about putting a game plan together that will give them the best chance to win. If he believes the 2-QB system is the best way to go, that's what he will do and those are the results he will have to live with. Is it the right decision? Maybe but I do see Brown's concerns with Greene. The number one priority for a quarterback is to throw the football with efficiency, not be a running back. He has to give the receivers more time to run their routes to see what is open before just taking off. Greene trusts his legs more than his arm so if that's the case, why would Brown trust his arm more than his legs? It wouldn't make much sense to have him completely take over as QB1 and ask him to drop back 20-25 times a game if he doesn't run the plays as they're designed.
All that said, I still do believe that at some point this season, Brown has to just pull the plug and insert Greene as the starter to see what he can/can't give you before heading into next season. Although Doege does have the ability to return for one more season (COVID year), the feeling is that he will not return. This means West Virginia will have three underclassmen competing for the starting job in 2022 (Greene, Crowder, & Marchiol). So why not get a head start on the evaluation of Greene? It can't hurt anything, certainly not now.
The other young quarterback that tends to get lost in the mix is Will "Goose" Crowder. With the excitement surrounding WVU commit Nicco Marchiol and Garrett Greene's ability to be a dual-threat, Crowder has become an afterthought to some folks. I've always had my questions about Greene being a complete quarterback. He's a hell of an athlete but he might just be an athlete playing quarterback. Then again, he might be more than that. When it comes to Crowder, I don't have those same questions. In my opinion, he is the best natural thrower of the football that WVU has on its roster. Yes, this is based on his high school film but it's impressive. He has the look of a multi-year starter. His arm strength is much better than I originally thought and he is deadly accurate with the football. Now, will it translate to the college level? Time will tell but Neal Brown offered some praise for him during his Tuesday presser.
"Goose is a guy that, he's coming along. From a leadership standpoint, he has probably as good of skills as anybody in our program. He's really added positive weight over the last nine months since being here in January. The game is starting to slow down for him. He's had two really good Mondays in a row."
The WVU quarterback situation will continue to be the storyline to watch the rest of the season. Who knows, Brown may continue to ride with Doege/Greene, he may give Greene the keys to the offense, or maybe Crowder leaps Greene for the chance to start.
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