Preparation For Multiple QBs A Continuing Trend For WVU
For the third consecutive week, West Virginia will prepare for three different quarterbacks.
Prior to the Texas Tech game, the Mountaineers had to account for the possibility that Alan Bowman, Colt Garrett or Jett Duffey would take snaps. Bowman and Duffey wound up seeing about one half of action each, with Duffey’s entry sparked by Bowman being knocked out of the game on a sandwich hit from Keith Washington and Ezekiel Rose. This past week WVU had to get ready for a Kansas club that had used three QBs this season – Peyton Bender, Carter Stanley and Miles Kendrick – and wound up using both Bender and Stanley in West Virginia’s 38-22 victory Saturday.
This coming week, after the breakout performance by Iowa State freshman Brock Purdy, the Mountaineers will again be burning up the video screens. In addition to Purdy, WVU must also be ready for Kyle Kempt and Zeb Noland.
“We will be continuously watching for the next 12 hours,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen of Iowa State video. “[Purdy playing] was unexpected on our part. We still have to worry about Kyle Kempt coming back; they say he is coming back for this game. Noland is an experienced guy as well.”
Purdy, a true freshman, threw for 318 yards and ran for 82 in a 48-42 win at Oklahoma State last week, becoming the first Cyclone to top the 400-yard mark in total offense since 2012. In his only other appearance this year, he got one carry in mop-up duty against Akron, so WVU has just the one game of video to study to decipher his strengths and weaknesses. Kempt, a senior, was injured in the season opener and has not played since. Noland, a redshirt sophomore, replaced Kempt and played well against Oklahoma, but leveled off in succeeding games. He is 70-of-110 passing for 722 yards and four scores. Kempt is 15-of-21 for 126 yards in his one appearance.
Purdy showed remarkable poise for a true freshman, and made good decisions in both throwing and running the ball against a talented Oklahoma State defensive front.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said that Purdy will start if Kempt is unavailable, but that if Kempt can play, that the entire situation will be evaluated before a decision on the starter is made.
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On his own quarterback front, Holgorsen praised the decision-making of Will Grier in the run game, specifically in those situations when he kept the ball. He did have a question about one play in which Grier slid and was seemingly hit late. The blow landed also included contact with Grier’s helmet, which popped off and forced him to exit the game for one play, though no flag was thrown.
“On three different occasions, he pulled it on run plays. He has the opportunity to do that, but we have been careful with how much we want him to do it,” Holgorsen said. “That third time was a broken down play. We could have avoided that with better pass protection. But he did what he was coached to do. He slid, and he needs to be protected. That is one play I will send in [to the Big 12] and get clarification.”
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As usual, there were no updates on injuries from the previous week’s game. Holgorsen typically reserves judgment until players go through a full practice, and those don’t occur until Tuesday. Wide receiver Tevin Bush and linebacker Dylan Tonkery both exited the Kansas game with injuries. Safety Toyous Avery, who sat out the entire contest, is thought to be in good position to play this week.
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West Virginia has taken full advantage of the ability to add analysts to its football staff, whose job it is to get a head start on game planning and break down video of both the Mountaineers and their upcoming opponents.
“I think we are in a lot better spot than we were a couple of years ago,” Holgorsen said of the analyst spots, while also crediting the addition of the 10th assistant coaching spot with helping the on-field situation. “I wish that I had that offensive analyst a couple of years ago when I was drawing up plays.”
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Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy provided a perspective on Purdy, who engineered the 48-42 win over his Cowboys last Saturday.
“He ran the ball well; his play action was good. He was savvy,” said the veteran OSU coach. “There were times when we had him sacked and he pump faked us and got us off the ground. I thought he was very good.”
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Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley made a move that many Sooner fans had been calling for, firing defensive coordinator Mike Stoops after OU’s 48-45 loss to Texas in the Red River Showdown. Riley didn’t list specific reasons for the move, calling it “more of a gut feeling” that it was time to make the change.
“I felt like we needed a different voice in that room,” Riley said of the dismissal. “Mike is a big part of the success this program has had for a long time. This is never about just one person. Head coaches and coordinators get the lion’s share of the praise when things go good and the blame when things go bad, but it was more than just one person. There are a lot of people who need to do a better job, with me being at the top of that list.”
OU has elevated Ruffin McNeill to interim defensive coordinator, and moved defensive analyst Bob Diaco onto the coaching staff to teach the outside linebackers, which Stoops had previously mentored. Both McNeill (East Carolina, 2010-15) and Diaco (UConn, 2014-16) are former head coaches, making their way to those positions through defensive coordinator spots.
Don’t count Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy in the crowd that views Kansas State as an easy win.
“What people forget is that they lost to Mississippi State and West Virginia and Texas,” explained Gundy. “All three of those teams are in the top 12. They played a good game and lost last week to Baylor, which is much improved. I think they are a much better team than what people give them credit for. They might have played the most difficult schedule in the country up to this point.”
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QUOTABLE: “Any animal with ears can hear. We have to insulate ourselves from all of the noise and have a singularness of focus. We have to continue to tighten our focus and avoid outside noise.” – Texas head coach Tom Herman on blocking out distractions after beating Oklahoma last week.