2017-07-26 / Sports

Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Last week the Big 12 Conference held its annual media days for the upcoming football season in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas. West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen was accompanied to the two day event by safety Kyzir White, linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, running back Justin Crawford and fullback Elijah Wellman. Even the Mountaineer mascot got to attend.

Holgorsen did interviews and addressed the media that was followed by a brief Q&A session. There was nothing earth shattering about Holgorsen’s comments. Holgorsen talked about relinquishing the play calling duties to offensive coordinator Jake Spavital who returns to Morgantown after stints at Texas A&M and California. He said it was time to devote more time to the overall program and that he has complete faith in Spavital as they have been on the same page for a long time.

Holgorsen fielded questions about transfer quarterback Will Grier and about transfers in general. Grier has been tabbed the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by the media. “It was critical that we got him when we got him,” Holgorsen said Tuesday morning. “We had Skyler (Howard) coming back for another year, but our quarterback depth was not good. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that he’s a really good player.”

WVU is having much success with junior college transfers and transfers in general. Two of the WVU players, Crawford and White, are junior college transfers. “We don’t get many high school kids from West Virginia, probably zero to two a year, so we’ve got to go everywhere, and part of what has enabled us to be able to have a lot of success is to get some good transfers,” Holgorsen explained.

I found it interesting that at least one talking head seemed to be slow to get on the Grier bandwagon. He made it sound like Grier may have trouble filling Skyler Howard’s shoes this fall. That will be a shock to much of Mountaineer Nation because as a group, the fan base has clearly decided Grier is an upgrade at quarterback. Howard had good stats, but he didn’t have all the throws, save for the long ball where his receivers helped immensely.

It would probably be wise to allow Grier to play some games before anointing him the greatest WVU quarterback of all time, but it’s hard not to be excited about the new quarterback when players and coaches gush about him having all the throws. Anyway, this particular analyst’s observation might help explain why WVU was picked to finish sixth by the Big 12 media’s pre season poll, behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas and TCU. If you have doubt that Grier is not an upgrade at his position and you see the losses on defense, then one may assume this is a rebuilding year for the Mountaineers.

Fox Sports Joel Klatt has another view. “I think West Virginia is a really good team. Dana might not want me to say all that - he wants to sneak up on people - but I think Will is going to be a really good player, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if West Virginia is right back in that nine-, 10-win mark this year again.”

Bruce Feldman, another Fox analyst said, “I think Tony Gibson (defensive coordinator) has proven he’s about as good a defensive coordinator as there is in the conference; Will Grier should have a big year in this offense, you’ve got two really good tackles (Colton McKivitz and Yodny Cajuste), so I think on paper to me that would have been my No. 3 team.”

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