West Virginia will not name starting QB before facing No. 19 Kansas State; possibility exists for 3 to play

(Neal Brown pregame press conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia will not name a starting quarterback in advance of Saturday’s 2 p.m. against No. 19 Kansas State that concludes the home schedule for 2022.

After Garrett Greene took over for a struggling JT Daniels and guided the Mountaineers to a come-from-behind 23-20 victory over Oklahoma, Greene was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. In the most extensive action of his career, Greene rushed for a team-high 119 yards with two touchdowns on 14 carries and completed 12-of-22 passes for 138 yards and a TD.

“We won’t name a starter going in, but he definitely deserves to play more,” head coach Neal Brown said. 

Brown, the Mountaineers’ fourth-year head coach who needs to go without another loss to avoid a third losing season at WVU, also left open the possibility that up to three quarterbacks could see action against the Wildcats.

In addition to Greene and Daniels, both of which appear likely to play Saturday, true freshman Nicco Marchiol could “potentially” play with the regular season winding down.

Marchiol has appeared in one game thus far — a Week 3 win over Towson — and could play in up to three more contests while maintaining his redshirt status, which would prevent him from losing a year of eligibility.

“I’m not saying no,” Brown said in regards to Marchiol seeing action behind center. “We’ve been getting him reps, because we want to get him ready. But off Garrett’s performance, he deserves to play more.”

Saturday will mark the first time in Brown’s 46 games as West Virginia’s coach that the Mountaineers enter without a clear starting quarterback. 

Daniels has started all 10 games this season, though his performance over the last month isn’t on par with how he began his West Virginia tenure.

Over the first six games of this season, Daniels threw for 200-plus yards in every game but one, a lopsided win over Towson in which he did not play beyond the second quarter. 

Since then, Daniels has surpassed 200 passing yards in one of four games, three of which West Virginia lost. He has four touchdown passes and six interceptions over that time, after throwing nine scores and three picks over the first half of the regular season.

Over his last two games, Daniels hit on only 15-of-34 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

There was no questioning the impact Greene made against the Sooners. He led a late first-half touchdown drive that provided the Mountaineers with their first points, two other touchdown drives in the second half and a 6-plus minute series that ended with Casey Legg’s 25-yard field goal as time expired to give WVU the 23-20 victory.

“I’d have had more nerves if I had less confidence in my guys, but I have the utmost confidence in all the guys that were on the field with me that they were going to help me get the job done and help us get the job done,” Greene said. “I was fully confident going into that drive.”

On the final series against the Sooners, Greene completed a 5-yard pass to Bryce Ford-Wheaton on fourth-and-3 from the OU 39. Following the fourth down conversion, Greene rushed for two more first downs that helped WVU end the game in the red zone, one of which was a 7-yard run on third-and-6 that prevented the Sooners from getting the ball back.

“A lot of those yards were tough, especially on that last drive,” Brown said. He just played with a lot of fire and a lot of energy. He energized the stadium and our sideline. Really happy for him. He’s gotten better and better. He’s practiced better and kind of embraced his role. When he had an opportunity, he made the most of it, so credit to him and excited for him.”

Greene could be in line for the first start of his career against the Wildcats, who remain squarely in the thick of the race for a Big 12 Championship.

Until last weekend, some of his playing time this season had come as a slot receiver, though Brown indicated all along that Greene remained a quarterback.

The week before the win over Oklahoma, Greene led West Virginia on a touchdown drive on its final series in a loss at Iowa State.

He was quarterback for two first-half possessions agains the Sooners, before taking over for the remainder of the game to start the second half.

Brown understands whichever quarterback isn’t named the starter may not agree with the decision, but he doesn’t foresee it becoming an issue.

“Everybody that’s involved are good people and then you just try and be transparent,” he said. “That’s the way you handle it. Those things are never easy. It’s different. Every position plays multiple people besides that one usually. They knew that when they signed up to play that position too, though. You’re transparent with it and they’re all good people involved, so however it goes, it doesn’t mean they like it, but they’ll move forward with it.”

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