Garret Greene is an exciting football player. He brings a toughness, swagger and energy to the West Virginia Mountaineers they haven’t had in years and he brings an electricity that the Mountaineers haven’t felt in a decade. The last time the Mountaineers had a player of Greene’s caliber was Pat White, the G.O.A.T of Mountaineer quarterbacks who went 4-0 in bowl games as a starter plus won the Senior Bowl. Fans were excited and downright giddy to watch the young freshman enter the game Saturday and see what he could do.
What we saw, however, is that Greene, while exciting and electric, also presents a conundrum for head coach Neal Brown. Brown is in his third year and possesses a senior quarterback in Jarret Doege. Doege isn’t exciting, he isn’t flashy and he isn’t mobile. He does however understand the offense and give the Mountaineers a chance to compete. Greene is exciting, flashy and unknown. So why hasn’t Brown simply made a change?
The answer lies in those unknowns.
Now I don’t know that he did it they way we said to but he did… There’s probably a few things he didn’t do well, but he’s always full throttle - Neal Brown, postgame
We don’t know what the exact calls were and we don’t know what the plan of attack was for Greene, but judging by the coach’s comments, it sounds like he missed an assignment, or two. Young, mobile quarterbacks who often relied on their legs will look to run when the opportunity is there. It takes a certain skill to stand in a collapsing pocket and deliver a throw downfield, taking a brutal hit, when you could easily just break contain and get some yards. Both have their time and place, but young quarterbacks often forego their progressions and take off too soon. It is an old, old tale.
Greene also didn’t exactly wow a lot of people with his arm. He had a very nice throw to Isaiah Esdale on fourth down, but the rest of his throws weren’t the tightest, strongest throws we’ve seen. Greene was a baseball player in high school, something Neal Brown alluded to when he said Greene didn’t have the most normal QB upbringing, and his throws remind me of dual-sport players. He’s got a longer windup like baseball players often do and some of that leads to his throws wobbling or being a tad slow.
So, what exactly, is Brown supposed to do? He has a current quarterback who is good enough, but he isn’t exciting and more so he seems to be getting spooked. He was spooked in the bowl game against Army, he looked semi-spooked against Maryland and he didn’t exactly light the world on fire against a very bad D2 team. Now he has to face Virginia Tech and Oklahoma Sooners and he, along with his head coach, are staring at the very real chance of opening this season at 1-3. Brown could pull his QB and start the phenomal freshman, but what is Green’s floor? Are fans willing to ride out another losing season if the young QB isn’t ready and needs to go through growing pains?
Answer that question truthfully. Are you willing to lose to Virginia Tech, potentially in very bad fashion, just to let Greene start? What about Oklahoma? Are you willing to be 1-3 because you just need Greene? What if Greene tanks and isn’t capable of going through his progressions or teams figure out he’s a runner and simply stuff the box, completely killing our run game? What if Greene is 9-25, 140 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. Are those growing pains worth it? Are they worth in game 10? In a year where 8-4 was a solid expectation for most fans, would 4-8 be ok because we started a freshman? These are questions that need to be answered, both by fans clamoring for Greene, and the head coach. Can Neal Brown afford to have a bad season with a young QB.
West Virginia’s offense might be more exciting with Greene in the lineup, but can we say for certain its better? Not yet, but that doesn’t mean Greene shouldn’t play, just be certain you are ready for the outcome if the floor is the reality for this season.