A quarterback competition is an exciting proposition for fans. It offers them a chance to focus on the leader of the offense and to be invested in how or when the team will move onto a new chapter, yet for coaches, quarterback competitions are a struggle. When a team has a solidified pecking order, knowing who is the clear-cut number one, that person gets the majority of repetitions, allowing the team to develop chemistry and cohesion. All of this makes its understandable that coaches would want a decision quickly, picking a winner and moving on to installing the offense and perfecting it.
Don’t expect this coaching staff to make a decision quickly. They shouldn’t. This may be one of the most important battles that has taken place for West Virginia football in years. It has been three years of lackluster offense. It has been three years of no-frills, no-explosion, and no-fun. New offensive coordinator Graham Harrell brings the hope that this new offense will be more explosive, more downfield and more fun, but it can’t if the wrong signal caller is behind the wheel.
We have three [quarterbacks]. A lot of times you get into these and its two, but we have three. We’re going to go through the spring and rotate them. We did it by age initially, so Garret went first, and then Goose and then Nicco. Rotate them through the day and try to get them similar reps.”
Under most competitions, they are only competitions in name. A senior has graduated and the coaching staff wants to present the option of truly giving every player a chance, but with a junior or senior backup, the competition is rarely level. In 2008, Jarret Brown was always going to be the starter unless he just completely bombed. Two young freshman were not going to unseat the upperclassman.
In 2013, the choice was always Clint Trickett, but his late arrival and lack of understanding of the offense gave Paul Millard and Ford Childress a chance. The 2014 competition was quickly settled.
Now, in 2022, we have a true competition. A redshirt sophomore who has a few plays under his belts, but not much else. A redshirt freshman who saw a couple of passes in a blowout FCS buy-win game. A true freshman who comes in with the highest of heralds and the promise of a bright future. Each deserves their real chance to make an impression.
I’ve watched a little bit of film on some of the guys we’ve had and each one individually to see what we have coming back to see what they did well last season, said Harrell. But I think its also important to give everyone a fresh start.
You can argue that if a competition were to occur, this is the right time to have one. The installation of the new offense gives each quarterback a level playing field, eliminating any nuance or experience Garret Greene or Goose Crowder may have had being in the system. Where the nuanced understanding of the offense may have given Millard or Jarret Brown an advantage during their time, there is no advantage now. It also allows Harrell the chance to truly judge the players and make his own decision, without having to be saddled with a player who may not fit his vision of what is needed for his offense.
“The next week we will start doing some team [drills] and we’ll evaluate how they drive the football. You chart a lot of things, completion percentage, scoring is one of them, decision making, but they are all going to have equal reps and equal opportunities as we move forward”
It is interesting to hear and it should be noted that the coaches aren’t just judging these players based on how well they throw the deep ball or who completes the most passes during the day. There are intangibles that are needed at the quarterback position. Who is the leader of this offense? Who do the receivers and running backs gravitate to? Are the lineman happier blocking for someone like Greene, who’s mobility helps open up plays or do they prefer Goose because he has a quicker release, or maybe its Nicco because he can make audibles and protection calls.
The kicker in this competition is the shadow cast by potential transfer JT Daniels. Daniels, who has started at both USC and Georgia, is transferring and looking to make a decision. He has included West Virginia in his narrowed search for a team, a list that includes both Oregon State and Missouri. Daniels isn’t expected to transfer until after spring practices are over, which lines up with the coaching staff’s decision to really evaluate these young quarterbacks.
“If we had gotten a transfer quarterback I don’t know how we would get a good evaluation on the young guys. It’s not just about now but about the future,” Brown said. “We have three guys — Garrett Greene, Nicco Marchiol and Will Crowder — who deserve the opportunity to show what they have.
This is the attitude all fans have been clamoring for. They want to see what the young kids can do and it appears the coaches are going to give them every opportunity to win them over. Daniels may come to Morgantown and be the starter and if he is, you should feel good about the prospects of the team, however, that doesn’t mean a decision is coming quickly. Each of the young guns is going to get a full chance to earn this job.