WVU Back-Up Quarterback Suddenly In Spotlight
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s future is suddenly its present.
With starting quarterback Will Grier sidelined for the final three-plus quarters against Texas, back-up Chris Chugunov became the man of the moment, putting what was potentially WVU’s quarterback of the future in the limelight of the 28-14 loss.
The redshirt sophomore gave a middling performance in throwing for 189 yards and a score, showing both his ability and the significant gap between the offensive execution under Grier and what Chugunov was able to engineer on Saturday. While the back-up-turned-starter found Ka’Raun White in the end zone for a 12-yard score and was able to operate effectively in stretches, he also overthrew one touchdown pass and routinely struggled with accuracy down the field.
That should improve over the coming week, when Chugunov figures to get all the first team reps in practice and will better hone the timing and chemistry to White, Gary Jennings, David Sills and others. Calling himself an “in-the-moment guy” Chugunov noted the offense sputtered at times. The Mountaineers amassed a season-low 295 yards and scored just seven points while once again losing two fumbles.
“We were hit and miss,” Chugunov said. “We had some big plays and we shot ourselves in the foot a few times here and there. As far as the pass game, the running game, it was hit or miss throughout. I wouldn’t say there were any major halftime adjustments, just calm down and play ball and try to go out there and play our best and win.”
West Virginia, however, never truly gained traction against Texas’ stout front, and it largely failed to win the one-on-one battles on the outside. An early White pass drop was a sign of things to come, the Mountaineers failing to reach the red zone more than twice while rushing for just 56 yards on 29 run plays.To his credit, Chugunov improved as the game wore on and actually finished with a higher QB rating than Grier.
“It’s time to go. You work for that all week and it’s the nature of the game,” Chugunov said. “Someone goes down you have to step up. The more time you play in the game, the more used to it and comfortable you get. I’m an in-the-moment kind of guy, so when it happened I was like ‘All right; let’s go.’ I was hoping Will was OK, but how it turned out you have to go in and do your job.
Chugunov was a four-year letterwinner at Montgomery High in Skillman, N.J., where he threw for 6,308 yards, 47 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with five games of 300 yards or more. At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, Chugunov played in five games a season ago and saw action versus East Carolina and Delaware State earlier this season. He completed 10-of-16 passes for 81 yards and a score. Now he faces his first collegiate start in Norman, where No. 4 Oklahoma has won 105 of its last 115 games.
“More reps, more preparation, it all translates to the field on Saturday,” Chugunov said. “It will definitely help.”
The prospect of facing the Sooners?
“Let’s go,” he said.