Slips, Slides & Quarterback Guides
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – We’ve heard it by now, how quarterback Will Grier can’t slide.
Should, but often can’t in the ‘didn’t think about it until too late’ style. “I suck at sliding,” Grier said.
For a quarterback who has been sacked just five times this season, he has taken quite a bit of contact. Blame that on Grier himself. For when the prep All-American escapes the pressure, the rush of open field running and the potential for the big play is just too great. Just another juke, another sidestep, another second for the pattern or seam to develop.
It’s strange how that clock goes off so perfectly in the pocket, the alarm that sounds signaling when it’s time to run. But the minute Grier escapes that area, the reasoning is overwhelmed by the urge to become more than quarterback – which means more than his share of hits. And like a Scrooge at Christmas, head coach Dana Holgorsen said Grier’s share with the game not on the line is zilch.
“I don’t view it as something that is really hard. Evidently it is hard because he is bad at it,” Holgorsen said. “He is competitive so he is always trying to get an extra yard and I’m like, ‘If you already have the first down who cares about a yard?’ If you have to strain for the extra yard to get the first down, sometimes that’s important, sometimes it’s not. If it is at the end of the game, if it is fourth down, yeah, by all means do what you have to do to keep it alive like he did against Virginia Tech. He was throwing his body all over the place. He kind of had to in that situation.”
But in others, like the open-field face mask throw down he took from East Carolina defensive end Tyree Owens – a former Mountaineer – shown here, Grier put himself at major risk. Former WVU quarterback Clint Trickett got grabbed by the face mask and twisted after sliding late in the 2014 loss to No. 10 TCU and was never the same player. West Virginia went from a 6-2 team with a blowout victory over No. 4 Baylor to losses in four of the last five games as Trickett struggled with concussions.
“In some of the situations that I have looked at over the last three weeks, it’s like, ‘Dude you don’t have moves, you are not going to juke people,'” Holgorsen said. “The other part of that is, one, preserving health, but two, preserving the ball, too. That ball is not in a good place once he is on the move. He fumbled one that went out of bounds luckily (versus Kansas).”
The value of the position is simply too great, especially with Grier, to experience an injury. Think Major Harris in the Fiesta Bowl, Marc Bulger toward the end of his career, Rasheed Marshall being lost for the entire season in 2001 when he was the lone signal caller with the skill set for Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense.
“Will is as good as I’ve ever seen in the pocket of knowing pressure and getting out of that,” Holgorsen said. “That is a gift that you can’t coach. You can work on it and get guys better at it, but that is a gift that he has which is going to be very beneficial for us moving forward. When you get out, you have to be smarter. You can’t take that hit. That puts your body and this team in harm’s way. We are going to work on it and try to get better at it.
“We have some fun drills we are going to get him to do. To me, it is pretty easy – get down.”