Ye loyal readers will undoubtedly recall that in March I made the case for Garrett Greene to be our starting quarterback this year. My argument then was essentially that the value added by Greene's legs compared to Jarret Doege's outweighed any potential advantage that Doege had as a passer. Through six games the only thing that's changed is that we've seen Greene play enough meaningful snaps against FBS competition to confirm that prognostication.
Greene has dropped back to pass 19 times in his 56 snaps against FBS opponents, completing 8 of 13 attempts for 66 yards and 0 touchdowns. He can be a bit erratic as a passer even considering an ADOT of just 6.7 yards, but I don't really think he's been much shakier than Doege. He's shown nice touch on the few deep balls he's been allowed to throw (1 for 2 on passes thrown further than 20 yards) and has also been on-target with the majority of his rollout stuff to the flats. The only throw we’ve seen Doege consistently make that Greene hasn't (yet) is that RPO slant, but even Doege has struggled with that when space disappears and windows shrink in the red zone.
It's hard to argue with Neal Brown's critique that Greene has some maturing to do in terms of going through his progressions in the pocket before tucking and running, but can anybody honestly blame him for being a little quick to bail behind this offensive line? He also has one of the best pressure escape rates in the country and averages 7.4 yards per scramble, so it's not as if his freelancing isn't productive. Either way, I haven't seen much to make me think there's any significant dropoff between Doege and Greene in the passing game, and at this point I trust a ball out of Greene's hand almost as much as I do Doege's (low bar here).
The running game is a completely different story, however, as offseason tales of Doege's newfound athleticism proved greatly exaggerated while Greene has been even better than expected. His size is a bit concerning, but it almost works in his favor on the zone read because linebackers seem to lose him behind our offensive line and he’s explosive enough that that extra half-second hesitation is all he needs to pick up a quick 6 yards. Overall he's carried the ball 23 times for 148 yards (6.4 ypc) and 2 touchdowns against FBS competition and very obviously gives us a spark that we don't have otherwise.
More importantly though, the threat he provides as a runner creates more room for others. Leddie himself has been a yard per carry better alongside Greene (5.8 ypc) compared to Doege (4.8), and the combined 6.25 yards per carry that Leddie and Garrett have produced when sharing the field together (32 carries) is more than 2 yards better than the 4.1 yards per carry we've generated on our other 101 rushing attempts. These benefits haven't trickled down to other aspects of our offense yet, but why would we assume they wouldn't if Greene was on the field more frequently? As Joel Bracken discussed in his weekly stats article, “if you can force the opposition to respect one facet of your game, others have the ability to open up as they receive less attention”. Greene at the very least gives our offense an identity to lean in to, and defenses having to account for him will only make things easier on everybody else.
We're at the point where it's hard for me to listen to arguments against Greene being our starter for the rest of the year. Mountaineer Nation understands that there will be growing pains, but our offense is averaging 21 points per game right now - how much worse can it really be? And I'm not just trying to bag on Doege here. I actually subscribe to 247’s position that Doege has not been our biggest problem this year, but after 20 games we know what our ceiling is with him. It's time to find out what our ceiling is with Garrett Greene.