WVU Loses Starting QB For Oklahoma, Perhaps Bowl As Well
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Will Grier underwent successful surgery on Sunday in Charlotte, and is expected to be out four to six weeks after dislocating his middle finger and breaking a bone in his hand two days ago against Texas.
Grier dove for the pylon late in the first quarter and fumbled the ball through the end zone before landing on his right (throwing) hand. The dislocation came in the middle finger, while the break was in his hand itself. The injury will keep him out of West Virginia’s regular season finale at No. 3 Oklahoma this weekend.
“He went through successful surgery,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They got him to Charlotte after the (Texas) game. His family is from there, they know a lot of people there so I supported that 100 percent. Everything went as planned. They said it’s probably a four- to six-week deal, and that puts you right up against the time frame of a bowl game. He’s obviously not going to be ready for this week.”
That elevates back-up Chris Chugunov to the starting role. The redshirt sophomore played the final three-plus quarters against the Longhorns, completing 14-of-26 passes for 189 yards and a score. Chugunov had thrown just 21 career passes prior, completing 15 with one touchdown and two interceptions.
“With the middle finger on the throwing hand, that’s going to be kinda tough,” Holgorsen said of Grier’s return for WVU’s bowl game. “He’s a tough kid. In good spirits. He will be back here this afternoon.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s one of those deals. It had nothing to do with the defender and everything to do with losing the ball and coming right down on his finger.”
West Virginia’s offense was limited with Chugunov having to play on short notice, as coordinator Jake Spavital attempted to simplify the game plan and give Chugunov manageable throws. The Skillman, N.J. native hit Ka’Raun White for a 12-yard score, but also misfired on multiple deep throws, including what would have been a touchdown to Gary Jennings in the 28-14 defeat.
Still, Chugunov has been in the program for three seasons now, and should showcase better timing with an increase in overall play after a full week of first-team reps in practice.
“Having all the first team reps will get anybody more comfortable,” Holgorsen said. “We feel good about Chugs. He played hard and battled hard. That was a heck of a defense we had to play against, the best we faced all year. They were putting lots of pressure on the quarterbacks. I thought he went in there and managed things really well. With a few more reps we will probably be able to do a few more things, no question.
“From an overall team aspect, it’s a huge challenge going into Norman. They are playing as good as I have ever seen on offense. The defense is getting better and better. They have a lot to play for and are playing well. Our guys are excited about it. This week is all about football and being able to play.”
Grier was on pace to set West Virginia single season passing records in yardage and touchdowns. He led the nation with 34 scoring passes and had thrown for 3,440 yards, the third-best total in the country entering the Texas contest.