WVU’s Will Grier Aims For Bounceback Vs. Baylor
MOGANTOWN, W.Va. — They say practice makes perfect.
They also say no one is perfect.
So what do you do when you practice in an attempt to get as close to perfection as you can, dedicate yourself to that chase, and a day crops up where nothing goes right?
Can you practice for the moments like those, when things are going bad, as they did for Will Grier a week ago at Iowa State?
In truth, you can, even though you probably don’t know you are doing it.
Dealing with failure is as important as dealing with the trappings of success, finding ways to improvise when the playbook or the game plan goes haywire. Turning a lack of momentum around is as much a mind set as it is in getting momentum flowing in your favor.
Knowing the maturity of Will Grier, knowing the confidence he has in himself and his teammates, knowing the ability he possesses, you suspect he is fully equipped to be one of those quarterbacks who finds a way to turn things around when they go bad.
But he needs help.
While certainly he did not perform very well against Iowa State, the truth of the matter is that he had no chance to. Ben Roethlisberger, who may be the best there is in turning bad games into winning games, couldn’t have done much on Saturday.
First off, there is what Grier must accept.
“We watched the 42 plays, and he did not play great,” Coach Dana Holgorsen admitted.
But to lay the load on him is to blame the symphony orchestra for a bad arrangement when most of his musicians are playing off key.
“There were a lot of times there wasn’t anything he could do,” Holgorsen noted. “From a run-game perspective, we did the right stuff, we had numbers, there’s times they got off blocks and made plays for a zero-yard gain. So, that was fine.
“Then, we got behind, and we had to start throwing the ball, they would rush three or four, and he would get flushed out of the pocket quicker than I’d like — we knew that was going to happen — and they had dropped seven or eight people into coverage a lot, so there weren’t guys to throw to initially, and we knew that.”
The idea in the game plan was to run early when they had run looks from the defense, which would draw defenders in closer, allowing them to throw. When they stuffed the run over and over they were able to keep maximum coverage of the pass game in the secondary.
And that Grier was running for his life can be pinned on the protection, not on a quarterback who had been shown to be courageous in the face of pass rushes in the past.
They were ready for what Iowa State did, said they saw it last year… and beat it.
“It’s how we beat them last year — he was flushed out of the pocket, and he sat there and kept his eyes down field, and he made a couple of plays downfield that allowed us to be able to win the game,” Holgorsen said.
So what was different? Was it something Grier was doing?
“The defenders got to him a lot quicker than what they did last year, which made him have to make decisions quick, and then there’s nobody to throw the ball to. So, what do you want him to do?” Holgorsen answered. “I’d like for him to throw the ball away and prevent 13-yard sacks. He got frustrated because there wasn’t anybody to throw to, and he missed a couple of reads.
“When you’re one of the top quarterbacks in the country, there are throws that I think you could make even when guys are covered, so he has to trust his ability and continue to trigger those throws and not worry about some bad things that could potentially happen.”
But remember, a week earlier he had thrown three interceptions in the end zone trying to do just that, so he was making adjustment to avoid that, thinking even taking a loss was better than losing the football.
Holgorsen said that could have happened, but believes it shouldn’t have happened.
“It could be, but he can’t play like that. It could be,” the coach said. “I think the situation was more problematic than what was going on in his head. Our receivers could not get open. Why? I don’t know. They could get open the previous five games.
“Give Iowa State credit. They played absolutely lights out. They played really, really, really well — especially on defense. I have a lot respect for Coach (Jon) Heacock. I’ve watched him for three years there, and he’s building a really good defense.
“They played lights out. So, we have to play lights out so we’re able to combat that, and we didn’t. Will has to trust what’s going on. He has to trust the O-Line to do their job, and he has to sit back there in the pocket. He has to keep his eyes where we want him to keep his eyes, throw the balls we want him to throw and have the confidence to do it. He will do that moving forward.”