MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia might have found its primary connection for next season.
The symbiosis between quarterback Will Grier and receiver David Sills was obvious in the Gold-Blue spring game. Grier connected on a dozen passes, half of which went to his new favorite target in the 6-3 Sills. The wideout made midrange grabs, comeback catches when the corners played soft, and exploited his height and ability to adjust to the ball on deeper routes down the sideline.
“We worked very hard all winter on timing,” Sills said. “Not only me, but all the receivers. Will has been great with it, texting us and asking us if we want to throw, We always respond yes. Timing has definitely been a big part of the spring, and I am excited to see how much better we will be able to get in the summer now that we know what we need to work on.”
On one throw, an over-the-shoulder grab early in the third quarter, Sills sealed the corner on his inside hip, then adjusted to a nicely lofted Grier pass that was secured just inside the sideline. The gain went for 34 yards, the longest for Sills in the game, and showed the timing and chemistry that has enveloped both players. It was among Grier’s better touch passes of the game, and showcased the junior’s ability to throw to spots, as well as his penchant for pushing the ball vertically, as he did on a play action in which he faked the handoff and rolled left (a difficult throw for a right-hander) before properly positioning his body to deliver a 60-yard dart that landed in the outstretched arms of Ricky Rogers.
It’s that combination that Sills says could make WVU’s passing game lethal in combination with a stacked stable of running backs. To give one an idea of how much Grier has come to view Sills as his go-to wideout, five of Grier’s first six passes in the spring game went to Sills as the quarterback started 8-for-8. Sills finished with six catches for 96 yards on a variety of crosses in traffic, throws in the flat, curls and the one vertical pass. The two players are intertwined mentally, at least in part because of Sills’ time playing quarterback. Sills’ viewpoint of how he’s defended as a receiver is also distilled through the lenses of a life spent behind center, rather than lined up parallel to it.
“It’s hard to put into words how much it helps,” Sills said. “If I see a safety rolling over top of me or something like that, I know Will is seeing it and he knows I am, so I’ll know where to go and he’ll know where to go with it. Coach (Tyron) Carrier has done a great job with us learning where to be and where Will expects us to be as well. The quarterback knowing where the receiver will be – no matter what receiver it is – before he is out of the break, that’s deadly. You can’t defend it because the ball is there even before the DB knows you’re breaking.
“That’s what we strive for and that’s what we will try to perfect over the summer and going into camp. We are going to be the heartbeat of the team, the energy. Working on our hands has been really good for us and it kick-started us in spring and to the end of spring.”