Will Grier To Travel; Backup QB Plans Set
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Will Grier won’t be behind center on Saturday when West Virginia travels to play Oklahoma, but the quarterback with the broken middle finger on his throwing hand will be on the bench doing what he can to help backup Chris Chugunov fill his shoes.
“We normally don’t take injured players with us on the road,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen admitted at his Tuesday media meeting. “He’ll be on the trip. He wants to support his guys and help be a coach on the sidelines. That’s the kind of kid that we’re dealing with.
“We all know Will, and what kind of a teammate he is, and his football IQ. It’ll probably be pretty comforting to Chugs to have him on the sidelines to be able to talk to him.”
He returned to Morgantown on Monday night and Holgorsen was planning to see him on Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s anxious to find out what the game plan is and watch practice and be there as another set of eyes,” Holgorsen said of Grier.
Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital believes that Grier can help his reserve quarterback get through what will be the toughest assignment of his career.
“Will’s a good teammate. He wants the best for Chugs, he wants the best for the offense, he wants the best for the team,” Spavital said. “These guys are his brothers, the guys he’s gone to war with. To be on the sideline and add his moral support, it has to be uplifting for those guys.”
And having been there, having worked the pocket in this offense, he will be able to see things that Chugunov may not pick up on right away. In fact, when Grier was quarterbacking he would always offer suggestions and be almost like a coach on the field, was given a great deal of freedom.
“The more eyes you got the better,” Spavital said. “He’s good at it. He’s played it and he can talk to me or he can help Chugs through the whole situation, too.”
That goes for the entire offense, not just the quarterback.
“They all love Will and look up to him,” Spavital said. “It will be good for him to be there and create some energy.”
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And what happens if Chugunov goes down?
The backup quarterback in this game will be junior college transfer David Isreal, who had been redshirted since coming to school.
He’s a totally different package than Grier and Chugunov, more active with his feet while his throwing is nowhere near as precise or as strong.
“We have been player developing him through a lot of different things,” Spavital explained. “We’ve been sending him to inside drills, to 7 on 7 drills, we do Thursday night football with him for this entire year.
“He’s well acquainted with what we’re trying to accomplish. We feel confident we can put a package together for him that he can run if it comes to that.”
And if Isreal is out there it will be a different offense.
“He’s different than Chugs. He can run around, he’s more mobile. He has to use that to his advantage. In his junior college days he made a lot of plays on the run,” Spavital said.
And if he were to be hurt?
Wide receiver David Sills V would return to his original position with a package designed for his skills.
With the quarterback situation not as it should be, WVU will be stressing the running game more this week, especially since it hasn’t been up to par.
“I’ve been vocal about making sure we’re able to do that every week this year,” Holgorsen said. “There have been times where I thought we focused on it and have been good at it, and there have been times where I thought we focused at it and weren’t good enough at it.
“There have probably been some times where I thought we overlooked it as well. So, yeah, most certainly we need to do that; I don’t care who we’re playing.”
Spavital is with Holgorsen on this point.
“It’s got to be key,” Spavital said. “That’s something we’ve been challenging these guys the last few weeks. It hasn’t been popping the way we want it to pop. I thought earlier in the season we were running very efficient.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions. We don’t know if it’s the grind of the season or the mentality we’ve had these past few games, but it’s been addressed and we have to have these guys show up and get the run game established so we don’t put so much pressure on Chugs.
“Everyone has to elevate his play and make it easier for him. We don’t want to tell him to go out and win the game.”
Part of it could be the schedule.
Other than Virginia Tech and TCU, WVU played its weakest defensive teams early in the year — Delaware State, East Carolina, Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech — while the toughest teams were backloaded into the schedule.