The West Virginia Mountaineers are in an interesting and tough situation going into the 2022 season. Senior Jarret Doege has the option to return for his super senior season. Will “Goose” Crowder is coming in to his redshirt Freshman season after spending the year acclimating to the Neal Brown’s offensive system. Garrett Greene is a dynamic athlete that has shown the ability to make big, splash plays on his own. And of course, 4-star, top 300 recruit Nicco Marchiol will be arriving on campus in January. This offseason will be crucial to the Mountaineers’ future. Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and Neal Brown and staff will need to carefully approach how they handle each of these options to ensure they have the best chance to win in 2022 as well as the subsequent two to three years.
Jarret Doege is the safest option. He has more than 45 games of experience during his college career including 26 with the Mountaineers. However, he is an established product. Doege makes his living with accuracy and playing within a system. He is consistent, reliable and well, kind of boring. Over the course of his entire college career, his stats don’t change much:
The success of his team and the offense depend on his decision making, which can be spotty at times. In games where Doege has thrown at least 10 passes, his record is a disappointing 18-27 (40%). If we only look at his games at WVU, his record improves to 14-12 (54%). However, his involvement in the offense does not necessarily correlate to an improvement in his teams’ chances to win. In games where he has thrown the ball 30 times or more, his record sits at 8-19 (30%), and 7-9 during his time at WVU (44%). Needless to say, we know Doege’s ceiling, and it is about 6-7 wins in a given season.
However, the coaching staff handing the keys back to Doege may leave negative ripples across the rest of the QB room. With Doege returning, it is likely that Will Crowder and Garrett Greene explore other options through the transfer portal. In fact, rumors began circulating about Crowder considering transferring shortly after Doege made his announcement via ESPN sideline reporter Taylor McGregor during the Texas game. This is another issue that comes along with Doege, as there are recent reports that suggest that the coaching staff isn’t convinced they should bring Doege back for another season. Doege’s announcement via a sideline reporter versus announcing through one of the many media outlets close to the program is a head scratcher, and in my opinion, this feels like Doege may be trying to force the coaches’ hands into handing him the job back. I do appreciate how much Doege seems to love playing at WVU and wants to return to run it back, but the risk with bringing Doege back as starter may outweigh the reward.
The other options are wild cards.
Personally, I think Will Crowder may be the best option for the 2022 season. Crowder is more of traditional quarterback than the other option currently on the roster (Greene). Crowder has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff for his leadership abilities and the speed at which he learned the playbook. He also isn’t a statue in the pocket either. In fact, he ran the same 40 time coming out of high school as Garrett Greene (4.7). Crowder also comes with a live, strong arm and a quick release. Coming out of high school scouts praised his arm talent, with 247Sports’ Andrew Ivins stating Crowder is, “A confident thrower that isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field. Isn’t scared of tight windows, either. Shows plenty of touch, especially on deep passes. Owns a smooth, compact release. Comfortable in the pocket.” But Ivins also notes, “Can make all different types of throws, but success at the next level will likely be determined by accuracy and ability to quickly process defenses.” This leads to the uncertainty about Crowder. How is his in-game decision making? How will he handle being behind the same offensive line that just allowed 33 sacks in 12 games? It’s also hard to glean much information from his senior year in high school as he threw for 2,100 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior and 2,300 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. It is important to note, however, that his record during that time was 17-7.
The other option already in-house is fan favorite, Garrett Greene. Greene is a completely different player than any other quarterback on the roster. He is a dynamic runner, able to turn broken plays into first downs, and tiny seams into big plays. He, like Crowder, also comes with some high praise from scouts as he was an Elite 11 finalist and a finalist in The Opening. However, there are many more question marks when it comes to Greene. First is his experience playing in an offense like WVU’s. His high school football team was an option-oriented, run heavy scheme that led Greene to throw for only 1,200 yards and 7 TDs his senior year while rushing for over 900 yards and 15 TDs. Additionally, Greene split time between the gridiron and baseball diamond, which forced him to miss out on some quality development time. Next is decision making. Greene didn’t have a traditional Freshman year at WVU as practices and traditional development opportunities were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Greene lost out on quality reps during this time, and his performance in the 2021 season to date has reflected this. Greene has shown a bad habit of tucking and running as soon as he is uncomfortable. This leads to plays not being run as they are designed and the best read or option not being exercised. Additionally, this play style does not fit Neal Brown and the offensive staffs’ RPO-based scheme, which prioritizes quick, efficient decisions that can be leveraged to pull the defense out of position to open up holes and seams. Finally: his build. Greene only stands at 5’11” and 190 pounds, and it is uncertain if his body could handle the physical toll being a running quarterback would place on him. While Greene is definitely an intriguing option for the Mountaineers, he seems to need more development before he is ready to be the leader of a Power 5 offense.
Finally, the player all WVU fans are most excited about: Nicco Marchiol. The lefty-quarterback is a consensus 4-star recruit out of Chandler, Arizona. And boy, does he make one’s ears perk up when thinking of the possibilities. First off, most major programs in the college football world wanted him, as he had offers from the University of Southern California, Penn State, Ole Miss, Michigan, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Michigan State, and Arizona State. Marchiol also has the stats, throwing for over 2,400 yards, 35 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions in his senior year (which isn’t over yet). He did all this while leading Hamilton High School to an undefeated season, which included handing perennial powerhouse Bishop Gorman there only loss of the season. His previous year’s as a starting QB aren’t bad either, with him showing growth across the board between every season.
|Year||Grade||GP||Pass Yards||C%||Avg||Pass TDs||INT||Rush Yds||Rush TDs|
He also has the build for the quarterback position at 6’2” and 215 pounds, and the confidence that a great quarterback needs. Blair Angulo from 247Sports’ has this to say about Nicco:
“Prototype build and frame. Quick-release left-hander with ability to slide the pocket. Impressive presence and anticipation. Goes through progressions well and shows terrific rhythm to find targets. Steps up when he has to and keeps composure under duress. Quick release with ability to throw on the run. Athletic enough to pick up yards down field. Upside as multi-year starter, All-Conference type performer and NFL Draft Day 3 selection.”
Nicco is currently slated to sign and arrive on campus on January, which could give him enough time to get up to speed to join the quarterback competition as a true freshman. The skill set is almost undeniable, but it is always hard to determine how production against high school opponents will transition to the college game.
There is probably no 100% correct answer the coaching staff can make in this situation. The offense is losing its most important offensive player in Leddie Brown, and it is likely that the team will need to lean on the passing game more heavily than in the 2021 season. If Doege is the choice, then it is likely the Mountaineers lose at least Will Crowder to the transfer portal and potentially Garrett Greene as well. However, with Doege as the starter, I believe many fans will want to see more than another 6-6 season. With a more pass heavy offense, will Doege be able to go against his historical statistics and lead the team to wins on his own? If the coaches choose Crowder or Greene, will Nicco be willing to sit for potentially 2 to 3 years before getting the opportunity to start? If the choice is Nicco, how long will it take to get up to speed, and will Mountaineer faithful be willing to accept a potential below .500 season while the young phenom adapts to the college game? Or is there a way to bring Doege back and slowly transition the job to one of the three young guns a quarter of the way through the season without it backfiring? There are more questions than answers, and it comes at a time where Neal Brown needs to start putting wins together. The next 12 months will be a very interesting situation to monitor and could leave ripples that affect the program for years to come.
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