Grier, WVU Move On From Uneven Performance Vs. Kansas
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are many number of items to look at in the Kansas postmortem as West Virginia begins readying itself for a trip to Iowa State that might be the most pivotal game it plays in its season.
Most eyes have focused ever since Saturday afternoon on Heisman candidate quarterback Will Grier throwing three intereceptions, as many as he had thrown in the first four games of what is now a 5-0 season, and viewed it through Chicken Little eyes… “the sky is falling!”
That, of course, is pure panic, not unlike someone saying after Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak was broken in 1941 “He’ll never get another hit!”
When clouds move in at the end of a sunny day, the Weather Channel does not normally offer the knee jerk — jerk being the operative word — prediction for “hurricanes and tornadoes” for tomorrow.
In fact, when one considers that all three were thrown in the red zone, with points easily within WVU’s grasp, it doesn’t take much to imagine that the score of that Kansas game well could been not 38-22 but 59-14, giving WVU TDs on all three of those possessions and taking away one Kansas score that came out of the INT.
At that stage, too, you would be talking about Grier throwing seven touchdown passes in the game and no one would have cared whether David Beaty of Kansas went for a two-point conversion on his meaningless TD or not, for there would have been jubilation in Morgantown.
Now it’s true that anywhere but on Fox TV you can’t have “alternate facts”, so the interceptions stand as they were and are a blemish on the Grier record, but in athletics you must allow any player a blip on his record.
No one has ever batted 1.000 or hit every jump shot he took or scored at touchdown on every carry, so until it becomes a trend it will be brushed aside as a learning moment while moving on to the next opponent.
“It felt sloppy as a whole,” Grier allowed, “but this is such a team game you have to be right in doing all the right things from every aspect as a team. Nobody plays perfect games, but there has to be a sense how good we are that we fix these little things and get better moving forward.
“And we will.”
WVU plays with an expectation of perfection, however, which adds to the problems that cropped up against Kansas.
“It’s a humbling thing for these kids,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital explained. “They do have a lot of pressure on them to play perfect all the time, but that’s kind of the standard we have set in that room.
“They have to be at least thankful they still got a W out of this and not take it for granted.”
And that goes back to the launch pad that is Will Grier for the offense.
“All the time, and Will does really good job of handling that expectation. I thought we pressed a little bit too much and were trying to do things without a scheme, without the system. I thought we reverted a little bit to last year.
“We had a down day in the red zone and and Will did some uncharacteristic things, but that’s part of it. I’ll take the win. That’s good motivation moving forward to Iowa State.
Dana Holgorsen wasn’t ready to write off Grier or the red zone offense after the Kansas game.
“Just like last week [against Texas Tech], I don’t think we’re a bad second half team just because we weren’t good at one particular thing last week. We’ve been pretty good in the red zone. I don’t really think that it’s a problem. We just probably made some bad decisions; probably made some bad decisions play call wise and we probably made some bad decisions at the quarterback spot.
“The receivers didn’t bail him out, either. We’ve got a lot of things that we need to work on. That will probably be the next one that we focus on.”
Holgorsen, as you can sense from that, doesn’t lay the blame totally at Grier’s feet.
“It’s a combination of not doing a very good job in the run game and them dropping a lot of people. Especially in the red zone, those windows become very tight. When they drop a lot, they become very tight,” Holgorsen said.
“He has the confidence to make any throw and every throw. That’s why he’s a hell of a quarterback, but those windows become small. I thought their defenders did a better job of attacking the ball than our receivers did.”
And so this week much of the planning with revolve around not only getting into the red zone but taking from there into the end zone, which is where the points can be found.