MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU head coach Neal Brown has his hands full with this season’s offensive scheme. He and quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan have rostered four QBs in 2021, but two are tried and true in game time situations.
Redshirt senior Jarret Doege has started all of the 2-4 Mountaineers’ games, but now that BYE week is upon us, could redshirt freshman Garrett Greene be the answer to the offensive woes? Based on a lackluster Mountaineer first half offensive showing in both the Texas Tech and Baylor games, is Doege still in a solidified QB1 spot?
In order to compare these two distinctly different offensive leads, it’s important to note when in the game Greene is normally subbed. Brown has repeatedly acknowledged that he scripts plays specifically for the redshirt freshman, but what might the implications be of letting Greene, the Mountaineers’ rushing quarterback, have the field, and play calls, on the fly? During last week’s 45-20 loss to Baylor at McLane Stadium, Greene actually lead the team in rushing yards, securing 55 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts. That 13-yard touchdown rush was his fourth score of the season, and of his career.
To compare, Doege, who concluded the Baylor loss averaging 240.6 passing yards a game, is easily having his worst collegiate season to date. Omitting 2019, when he was swapping time with then-QB1 Austin Kendall, Mountaineer fans really understood Doege’s strengths in 2020. Last year, in a COVID-abbreviated 10-game season, Doege passed for 1,690 yards in the same six-game span than he’s passed for 1,444 yards during this season. He singlehandedly lead the Mountaineers to 6-4, 4-4 finish, including a trip to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the team’s sixth win 24-21 over Army. Doege went 239-374-4; through only six games this season, he’s only produced 118-181 and five interceptions. This lands WVU at dead last in the Big 12 at 0-3, even behind a 1-4 Kansas Jayhawks team currently 0-2 in conference.
WVU’s 408 offensive snaps, taken primarily by Doege, have amounted to 2,266 yards (377.7 per game), broken down into 1,595 passing and 671 rushing, and 19 touchdowns. Removing Greene’s four scores and senior running back Leddie Brown’s one receiving and six rushing touchdowns, Doege is left with only eight plays that found an opponent end zone. Despite the receiving corps catching 110,000 balls in the offseason and stringing together 132 completions from 205 balls thus far, that kind of conversion rate is abysmal compared to the rest of the conference’s production. Those 205 passing plays are nearly equal to the breakdown of rushing plays, at 203. While Doege has taken 181 of the offensive passing snaps, he’s only converted eight of those passes into touchdowns, equalling a 4.4 percent chance that a single ball thrown from Jarret Doege’s hand will find its way into the end zone; comparatively, Longhorn quarterback Casey Thompson leads the conference, converting 12.7 percent of his passing attempts into the team’s 16 touchdowns. Doege’s production ranks him eighth of the nine passing Big 12 quarterbacks.
Of WVU’s 203 rushing snaps, Greene has run QB keeps on 38 of them. This works out to four touchdowns on 38 keeps, a 10.5 percent chance that a Garrett Greene QB keep will land in the end zone. Although not the primary plan for Greene’s snaps, it’s proven effective through his five games played. That scoring stat also ranks him 16th in all the conference’s rushers, an average of 46 yards per game. No. 16 ranks Greene as the third best rushing quarterback in the conference, behind Kansas’ Jason Bean (No. 11) and Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders (No. 14) for season rushing quarterback productivity.
In a conference so heavily reliant on passing yardage, is it fair to say that Greene’s versatility can bring not only something fresh to this Mountaineer squad, but also a dramatic shift in offense yardage capabilities? I’d say that the answer is yes. The only thing holding WVU offensive coordinator Gerad Parker from playing Greene on more snaps seems to be coach Brown’s belief in Greene. What we’ve seen from Greene thus far is a rushing quarterback who can spot the gaps and isn’t afraid to go off-script, much to the chagrin of Brown, and let loose down the field. Whether that means that he continues to sub in during red zone snaps or for middle-of-the-field yardage, Greene has proven that he can find ways to score. His four scores have all come inside the red zone, and two have come from inside the three-yard line, but his midfield keeps have produced nearly 200 yards of forward progress, contributing to then placing a Doege-lead offense into scoring position. Neither quarterback is efficient enough on his own, but Doege’s statistically found more red zone scoring success. Of WVU’s 28 red zone attempts, 15 have scored. Subtracting Greene’s four rushes and Brown’s five rushes, Doege has thrown six red zone touchdowns. Good, but not that far off from Greene’s success on his own.
Is that scoring efficiency good enough to quantify Greene taking over the remaining season’s snaps? Not if WVU wants to win. Through one less game, Greene has shown that he can be trusted, but it’s not enough to warrant a standalone starting position. One thing’s for sure, though. Working WVU’s scoring drought out during the BYE week will be crucial heading into an objectively difficult, remaining six games.