The WVU Mountaineers completed their Gold-Blue spring game on Saturday in front of nearly 13,000 fans. Plenty in Morgantown came out to witness the new-look offense the team is rolling out this fall.
While new addition quarterback JT Daniels wasn’t on display, the other WVU QBs were. It appears there is a real battle on the depth chart, as all three options showed some flashes of great potential.
In the end, the Gold side took down the Blue by a final of 22-21. The score is fun for the players; however, this tilt is all about seeing what you have on the roster and what works well on the field.
Beyond the signal callers, several other Mountaineers stood out with quality performances as well.
As the 2022 season begins to close in, let’s examine what we learned from WVU football’s spring game.
WVU’s Gold-Blue game recap
Of course, the most notable discussion surrounding this year’s spring tilt was the competition at quarterback. Even with the former Georgia standout Daniels now on the roster, there is plenty for the coaching staff to consider at the position.
Daniels should be set as the starter barring any major setbacks, but the other three all want the next spot, as well as some playing time.
Will Crowder, known by many as “Goose,” played particularly well. According to reports, he seemed comfortable in a variety of situations and showed his talent in throwing the ball.
Overall, Goose connected on 14 of 24 attempts for just about 200 yards. Crowder looked promising in this more passer-friendly offense under new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. He was solid in making several key tosses.
A familiar face didn’t have as much fortune early on, as Garrett Greene made some mistakes on Saturday. He settled down, though, and showed some improvements in his passing game. Those familiar with the Mountaineers know Greene causes issues for opposing defenses with his legs already. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry a season ago, totaling almost 300 for the year.
Greene finished the afternoon with 132 yards through the air on completing five of his 10 throws. Although he got picked off at the start, Greene recovered, nicely hitting receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton multiple times for long strikes.
The combination produced two plays exceeding 30 yards, including a touchdown to open up the second half.
WVU featured another promising young talent in quarterback Nicco Marchiol. Despite still technically being in high school, he certainly proved that he’s also skilled.
Marchiol threw for 75 yards on 10 of 19 passing while rushing nine times for 26 more yards.
More WVU Gold-Blue spring game takeaways
Along with the intriguing battle among the QBs, there was a noticeable difference in the offensive game plan. Harrell intends to throw the ball a lot more, and he provided a preview of that attack this past weekend.
Head coach Neal Brown is already seeing the impact created by his new staff member. According to the WV MetroNews, Brown said:
“It was really important that we have another voice in that room. Graham has brought a confidence. He has good swagger, but he’s humble. That’s been really effective in that room.”
The changes are showing on the field, too. The Mountaineers turned to passing often, giving all three quarterbacks lots of opportunities to air it out.
Naturally, the wide receivers on the roster benefit greatly from these adjustments. Besides Ford-Wheaton, four other wideouts caught a pass exceeding 25 yards.
One of those players also put on a show Saturday.
The hometown redshirt sophomore, Preston Fox, who went to high school in Morgantown, excelled on multiple occasions. He hauled in a few head-turning grabs, including a one-hander that earned a spot on SportsCenter’s top plays.
Altogether, Fox compiled five receptions for 117 yards through the air and one touchdown. His performance was good enough that the WVU coaching staff offered him a scholarship following the game.
Brown discussed everyone’s excitement:
“Those are some of the best moments. His parents came in the locker room, and he earned a scholarship; he’s been super productive. The next steps for him is he’s got to do it versus the top guys, but I’m really pleased with him. He’s a guy that had an opportunity, and he made the most of that opportunity over these 15 practices, and he earned the scholarship.”
Fox and the rest of the capable receiving corps should be optimistic that the group can put together a massive season. Sam James is another returning weapon who generated over 40 catches and 500 yards in 2021.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) April 23, 2022
Mountaineers’ 2022 outlook
Brown wants the offense to expand and create more chunk plays down the field. Between Harrell’s new scheme and Daniels under center, things are looking up in the Mountain State.
“That’s something we have to improve on. When we won last year, we had explosive plays. When we didn’t and when we played some of the better defenses we played, we struggled with those.”
If the spring contest is any indication, WVU fans are in store for a lot of big plays this season.
Since the game is mostly an exhibition and there wasn’t any live hitting from the defense, it’s harder to judge what happened on that side of the ball. That said, several Mountaineers were making their name known.
Linebacker Lee Kpogba figures to have an important role this year, and he didn’t disappoint. He recorded a few tackles and appeared comfortable within the defense.
Kpogba is likely in line to start at the middle linebacker spot. He’ll attempt to partially fill the void left by the absence of Josh Chandler-Semedo and his 110 total tackles from a year ago.
Even though the secondary looked shaky at times, they stopped the offensive unit with some quality challenges of their own.
The most noteworthy came from sophomore safety Aubrey Burks in the early going. He picked off Greene, who tried slinging it to James on a long throw.
Burks diagnosed the situation well and was able to make a great play on the ball.
The almost 13,000 fans means this game ranks behind only 2019 for attendance at a spring game within the last decade. Hopefully, this will turn out to be a very exciting season in Morgantown and at West Virginia sportsbooks.