2022 WVU Spring Quarterback Preview
To the average fan, the most important position on the field remains the quarterback. Regardless of one’s view on its rank in the hierarchy, however, the position certainly represents the most visible one. With Jarret Doege electing to spend his final year at Western Kentucky, the Mountaineers hit the reset button at the position. We provide our 2022 WVU Spring quarterback preview here.
Youth and Inexperience
Despite some rumblings that West Virginia might add a single-year quarterback transfer, the Mountaineers enter Spring camp with three quarterbacks on the roster. None of them has significant Division I experience.
Indeed, Garrett Greene represents the most experienced of the trio. He enters his third year with the program. Based on the free COVID year, however, Greene still has three full years of eligibility remaining. In 2020, Greene took 21 snaps; during the 2021 season, he took 115. In total, he returns just 136 snaps, and the vast majority of those came on run plays.
Indeed, he has thrown just 30 passes in those two seasons. He completed 64% of those for 171 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. Greene does bring a true threat with his legs, as he piled up 337 yards and four touchdowns on 54 carries.
Behind Greene, redshirt freshman Will Crowder has just eight snaps under his belt. As a result, we simply have not seen much from him yet. His high school film and scouting report paint a mature leader with a strong arm. While not a true dual threat, he has the ability to evade pressure and take off when necessary. In his eight snaps, Crowder has thrown the ball just twice, completing both for 28 yards. Like Greene, he has no touchdowns or interceptions.
Four-star recruit Nicco Marchiol joined the team for Winter workouts. Marchiol displayed some real moxie in high school most evident by his gutsy comeback win over Bishop Gorman. He already represents an off-field leader and ambassador for the WVU brand.
Enter Graham Harrell
As we wrote at length in our recent analysis of Graham Harrell’s offensive prowess, Harrell offers a specialty at developing young quarterbacks. At North Texas, he developed two-star Mason Fine into a solid quarterback. At USC, he developed true freshman Kedon Slovis into a top tier quarterback. He also took freshman Jaxson Dart this season from a mid-tier four-star quarterback into one of the most sought-after commodities in this season’s transfer market.
Slovis, by the way, entered USC with an 0.8683 grade per 247Sports’ composite score. Greene joined WVU with an 0.8729 grade, and Crowder joined with an 0.8688 grade. Finally, Marchiol brings an 0.9024 grade to Morgantown this season.
Indeed, Slovis was rated lower by the composite grade than all of the quarterbacks on the Mountaineers’ roster. What did Harrell do with him? Through three seasons, Slovis completed 68% of his passes for over 7,500 yards on 953 attempts. He threw 58 touchdowns to 24 interceptions (a ratio of nearly two-and-a-half to one). There is little reason to believe Harrell cannot produce similar results with his trio of young quarterbacks.
What is the Recipe?
Asked about his keys to getting the most out of young, inexperience quarterbacks, Harrell offered a simple answer. “The key is just giving them a plan, understanding who they are, [and] understanding what they can do,” Harrell said.
Instead of giving them 200 plays to learn that may or may not fall within their skillset, Harrell said he refused to put too much on the quarterbacks’ plate. It is the staff’s job to dress it up to throw defenses off balance. All of this has a simple goal, according to Harrell. If you “put too much on them too early,” he added, “they think too much.” If they think too much, Harrell observed, “they play too slow.” If he slows them down, Harrell believes he is failing at his job.
In general, he views the quarterback position as pivotal to the offense, but not quite as cleanly as you think. Instead, he admits that offense is difficult because you’re asking ten other guys to do their jobs perfectly to allow the play to develop around the quarterback. This happens against a defense hungry to disrupt that play.
For the quarterback, then, Harrell says, “it can’t be on the quarterback for the play to be unsuccessful.” As a result, he will seek to build through repetition a quarterback that does the small things well. That way, when a play develops as it should, the quarterback doesn’t make the mistake that causes the play to fail.
Harrell’s Thoughts on the Trio
Harrell told the media that he will use the Spring to take the first step: finding out what the offense and his quarterbacks do well. While he has talked to each of the quarterbacks, Harrell has not had the chance to work with them yet. As a result, he does not yet have a clear picture of that each of the trio does well.
That said, Harrell is certainly excited about the group. As for Garrett Greene, he praised his athleticism and ability to make plays. Greene certainly showed a tendency to freestyle a bit on offense, but, with that, came an ability to move a stagnant offense more often than not.
As to Crowder and Marchiol, Harrell praised the pair’s intangibles. He said that “once you hit a baseline skill level, intangibles are more important.” Good, then, that he believes the room is filled with a playmaker and guys whose intangibles jump off the page to Harrell.
WVU Spring Quarterback Preview
As we conclude our 2022 WVU Spring quarterback preview, we are sure fans want to know one thing more than any other: who will be the starter. Harrell flat out said he does not know yet. He laid out his plan clearly though: in the Spring, he will figure out what everyone does well; in the Fall, he will figure out how to put those traits onto the field. If the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach does not yet know who emerges the starter, we certainly cannot offer a meaningful prediction. Whoever it may be, though, the starter is in perfectly capable hands in Morgantown.