by Jim Buzzerd
Last week I turned this space into a rant on how I believe the NCAA’s Name Image Likeness legislation, if left in its current state, will destroy college football and basketball as we have known it. I did not comment on the West Virginia University football team’s Gold-Blue game that was played April 23. I use the term ‘game’ loosely. There was contact among the interior lines, but little to no tackling. In that sense the game resembled touch football.
It would have been nice to see how the stable of running backs handled contact, but we’ll have to wait for the September 1 opener at Pitt to see that occur in live action. Most fans were keenly interested in the battle for the quarterback job. Entering spring drills, we had every reason to believe the starter at Pitt would be chosen from redshirt sophomore Garrett Greene, redshirt freshman Will Crowder or true freshman Nicco Marchiol.
That dynamic changed a couple weeks ago with the commitment of Georgia transfer, quarterback JT Daniels. The former five-star recruit has a ton of playing experience and is expected to be the starter at Pittsburgh. Of course, anything can happen in fall camp, let’s pencil Daniels in as the starter for now.
Anyway, fans wanted to see the quarterbacks on the field, especially Marchiol who is one of the highest rated high school quarterback recruits to sign with WVU in years. Crowder saw only a handful of plays in a blowout of LIU last September. Greene saw spot duty last fall when he was inserted more for his ability to run than pass.
Crowder had a good day. Head coach Neal Brown said it was his best of the spring. The top three quarterbacks played for both squads and Crowder’s combined stats for the day were 14 of 26 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He completed one pass of 50 yards to Morgantown walk on Preston Fox. Fox was arguably the surprise of the day hauling in five passes for 118 yards. He was awarded a scholarship in the locker room following the game for his effort.
Marchiol was 10 of 19 passing for 79 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was credited with 26 rushing yards on nine attempts, but again, it was basically touch football on the runs. Marchiol looks like he can gain yards after contact if needed.
Greene received the least work of the quarterbacks completing 5 of 10 passes for a respectable 132 yards and a touchdown. He was also picked off in the endzone. In the era of the transfer portal, it would be a surprise if the Mountaineers have four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in September.
The question then becomes who leaves, and when? I’m going to speculate Marchiol will not leave. He is the future and hopefully he understands that. Crowder definitely has value, and he now has good game play on tape. If he is not content waiting for a chance, he may look around. Greene will always have value as a change of pace guy, but who knows what he’s thinking. He could be an interesting option in the slot, you know a guy with speed and an arm.
In a somewhat unusual basketball transfer portal story, former Mountaineer Emmitt Matthews is returning to Morgantown after a season at the University of Washington.