Spring game in the books
by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University football team finished spring football practice last Saturday with the Gold-Blue game. The Gold team was the offense and the Blue team was the defense that could score points in a variety of ways, most of which I did not really care about. I lost interest in the defensive scoring when it became apparent that head coach Neal Brown and his staff would award the defense any number of points for a play deemed necessary to keep the score close. With that in mind, there is little relevance to be found in the Gold’s 56-51 win Saturday.
Going into Saturday most eyes were on the quarterback position battle between Garrett Greene and Nicco Marchiol. If Saturday’s result was the final test, Greene had a large edge. Message board types were out in force following the game declaring Greene should be the starter. Yeah, based on one scrimmage perhaps, but there were 14 practices prior to Saturday and many more coming in the fall.
Word from those with access to practices this spring said Saturday was the worst Marchiol had looked. Greene was 8-for-11 with 156 yards and a 40-yard touchdown to wideout Cortez Braham. He also hauled in a 40-yard TD pass from Preston Fox on a trick play on the opening series, something Brown said running backs coach/offensive coordinator Chad Scott and quarterback coach Sean Reagan were intentional about calling as they experimented in new roles. Marchiol hit on 6-of-12 throws for 58 yards. Greene was credited with 16 rushing yards on five carries, while Marchiol lost 19 yards on three rushes.
“Garrett’s stats were better. One that he hit was probably going to be a sack,” Brown said. “Both of them are runners and in this format it’s hard for their full toolset to be shown. Nicco threw two really nice deep balls, and our receivers didn’t play the ball very well. Without having a chance to watch it, it’s hard to tell. They protected Garrett a little better, which is unfortunate for Nicco.
“This is going to be the long game regardless of what happened today or through the first 15 practices. This is going to be a deal that goes winter, spring and into the summer and into fall camp before we figure it out.”
So, there is plenty of time for this decision to be made and both may see game action when it’s settled. Running back is another position that has multiple candidates for carries this fall. C.J. Donaldson, Tony Mathis, Jaylen Anderson, and Justin Johnson all had at least 35 carries last season and figure to make this a position of strength.
On Saturday freshman Jahiem White opened eyes with a seven carry 91 yard performance that included a 53 yard touchdown run.