Holgorsen Says The Experience Will Help WVU Moving Forward
Orlando, Fla.–Even in the face of all the defections, West Virginia still hoped to get something positive out of Friday’s Camping World Bowl game against Syracuse.
Down four offensive starters, life on that side of the ball didn’t figure to be easy in Orlando.
And it wasn’t.
But first and foremost, the Mountaineers wanted to start the process of finding a future quarterback to replace Will Grier, who skipped the bowl game in order to get a jumpstart on his pro career.
Jack Allison, who completed six-of-10 passes in his limited work as Grier’s backup in the regular season, got the start behind center in Orlando against Syracuse.
He had some positives, completing four passes of 25. But he struggled with accuracy and pocket feel, taking four sacks Friday. He also threw a critical interception early in the fourth quarter that proved to be the beginning of the end for West Virginia’s victory hopes.
Still his coach thought the 6-foot-6, 203-pound sophomore, who transferred to WVU from Miami in the summer of 2017, gained some valuable experience, albeit in a 34-18 loss.
“I was proud of him. He’s had how many snaps this year – 10, 11?” noted Dana Holgorsen. “I thought his demeanor was good. His work ethic was good.”
Allison’s teammates also say they’ve seen potential.
“Jack is big and tall,” said WVU junior offensive tackle Colton McKivitz. “He needs a little more weight on him, but he’s a guy who can really throw the football. He just needs more playing time. He’ll get more comfortable working the pocket once he gets some more experience. We didn’t help him much today, because we allowed too much pressure.”
Allison wound up completing 17-of-35 passes for 277 yards.
True freshman quarterback Trey Lowe also saw some action in the bowl game. It’s the first time the 6-foot-2, 211-pound rookie has played a snap in college, but because of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule this year, Lowe could play in the Camping World Bowl and still preserve his redshirt. Thus he was able to get his feet wet.
“When we put Trey in there, I thought he went in and enjoyed the game,” noted Holgorsen.
Lowe completed both of his pass attempt, though for minimal yardage. He also ran the ball a couple of times, one going for a gain of nine and the other resulting in a loss of three.
“Trey has that versatility,” explained McKivitz. “He brings the ability to run the football, and that will keep defenses honest and causes them to respect the quarterback position in terms of the run game.”
Lowe was one of seven redshirt-eligible Mountaineers who participated in the Camping World Bowl but won’t have the season count against their eligibility status. The others were Kwincy Hall, Quandarous Qualls, Kolby Mack, Michael Brown, Sam James and Bryce Wheaton.
There was nothing that could mask the Mountaineers’ disappointment in losing another bowl game, the fifth time in seven postseason contests that Holgorsen’s WVU club has come up short.
But the experience gained by young players, particularly at the quarterback position, is one positive.
“We’re obviously a different club (without Grier),” added Holgorsen, whose club fell to 8-4 on the season after the bowl defeat. “I’m not interested into excuses. But I think what happened throughout the course of this past month will help us become a better team moving forward.”