Who Will Be Top QB in the Renewed Rivalry?

Everyone is anxiously awaiting the start of the season, but you might notice that neither of the opponents meeting at Beaver Stadium this Saturday night have technically named their starting quarterback. Granted, this is an up-and-coming trend in college football, keeping the other team guessing, but it is not as if the writing is not on the wall.

For all accounts and reports from both camps and against the shroud of mystery that really is not all that mysterious, the emerging favorites for the contest are junior Garrett Greene for WVU and sophomore Drew Allar for Penn State. Sean Clifford firmly held control of running the offense in State College, PA, for many of the past seasons and now relinquishes the reins to someone with a year of learning the system and schemes under his belt. Similarly, Greene has been patiently waiting to get his opportunity to officially lead the Mountaineers when it was not a decision made from poor QB1 performances.

Even with some gameplay experience, the two are similar in their need to prove themselves as the obvious choice at this critical management role.

The Quarterback Situation by The Numbers:

Head-to-Head Comparisons

There are many stats and figures that you can throw out there, but the field of analytics on both young men is limited. Each must take significant strides to outperform others in key areas to turn the game’s tide. Let’s break down some specific phases of the game where these new QB choices must excel:


The Role in the Game: Passing is not Penn State’s or WVU’s strong suit in this upcoming season. The Nittany Lions have incredibly talented running backs, and there are high expectations on WVU’s side for four possible backs in a rotation. But the QB also needs to be a threat with his legs.

Greene: Not known for being a high accuracy passer, the word is that this aspect of Greene’s game has improved. And the wins he was involved with last year, including both Oklahoma schools, his passing accuracy was in the mid 50s. While this percentage is not terrible, there were several dangerously thrown balls that were either intercepted or nearly so. Taking a year to work on learning the reads and timing receiver routes should play into some successes early on.

Allar: You kind of have to think of Drew Allar as a reflection of the departing Sean Clifford. The two have similar traits to bring to the table, and this player has been laser focused on learning the offense and playbook for just such an occasion as this monumental Game 1 under the lights.


The Role in the Game: Quarterbacks come in different styles, and the Big 12 seems to be leaning more and more on mobile quarterbacks like Adrian Martinez, Max Duggan, Jalon Daniels, and newcomer John Rhys Plumlee. To succeed against fast-paced squads in the conference, you must capitalize on lane development to allow a quarterback to tuck and run even without designed plays.

Greene: While far from the impressive statistics of Pat White, Rasheed Marshall, or Major Harris yet, Greene has been no slouch when it comes to tucking and running. The past two seasons saw limited play for the junior, and each of these seasons he managed to a crew nearly 300 rushing yards. We are all excited to see what kind of numbers are possible with a full slate of starts.

Allar: Drew has only acquired around 55 rushing yards in his ten games where he saw action. Compared to Garrett Greene, these are dismal numbers, but it is worth noting that there was no sense of urgency in most cases for scrambling when the head coach feels comfortable putting in the second string.

Extending Plays

The Role in the Game: How do these quarterbacks perform when the play breaks down? Extending plays can be critical to ensuring the offense stays on the field, you control the clock, and the defense gets to catch their breath.

Greene: If there’s one thing Mountaineer fans know about Garrett, it is that he is not scared to take off and run with the ball when the play starts to degrade. There were multiple times, especially against the stout defense of TCU and Oklahoma State, where extending the play became critical in securing the win. With this being arguably the hardest defense WVU will face this year, extending the play and evading the loss could never be more valuable than right now.

Allar: Allar saw action predominantly when the game was already well in hand, so his experiences with needing to drive the ball and get much-needed points never existed yet. This season will give him those moments, perhaps earlier than he’d plan. Earlier reports suggest that he is a capable runner when the need arises.

Who is the better starting QB1 this Saturday night? Time will tell. Kickoff is set for 7:30 on NBC.

(Photo by ESPN)

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Benjamin Gilbert
Benjamin Gilbert here - panhandle resident and enjoyer of Pitt losses. First and foremost, I am a lifelong West Virginia Mountaineer fan and do my best to inspire that passion in my beautiful wife and talented kids. Unfortunately, fandom doesn't always pay the bills. I have been writing for a decade and a half for various professions and multi-faceted franchises, so writing is what I do. Combining my skills with my passion for the WVU teams, I always seek to provide fair and honest takes on our path to finding the top of college athletics. Let's Go.