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West Virginia to Face Familiar Offensive Style with Virginia Tech, QB Wells



Many college football programs across the country aim to have a dual-threat quarterback on its roster to maximize the effectiveness of both its running and passing game. Virginia Tech is no exception with Grant Wells.

Wells, a former two-year starter at Marshall before joining the Hokies, has helped Virginia Tech overcome an opening week upset loss to Old Dominion to earn two consecutive victories by giving strong performances in the air and on the ground.

In fact, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said he’s seen this before.

“It reminds me of Kansas,”  Brown said.

But, West Virginia didn’t have a pleasant experience in its matchup with Kansas. The Jayhawks, led by quarterback Jalon Daniels, put up 55 points on the Mountaineers defense in their overtime victory. Daniels threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 85 yards.

Though Wells only led the Hokies to 27 points in each of their two wins, the junior guided the offense by totaling 651 yards and four scores through the air.

Virginia Tech also out-gained Old Dominion 333-249 offensively, but were hindered by five turnovers in the loss, including four interceptions from Wells.

“He’s more athletic than people give him credit for,” Brown said of Wells. “They pick and choose when they have him run. He’s good with scrambling and has a super strong arm. He’s been very accurate the last two weeks.”

Wells has been heavily covered in the gameplan for Mountaineers defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley, as the first key will be to look for the pass, while still keeping an eye on Wells in case he decides to tuck and run. Wells has compiled 66 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries through three games, with his longest run being an 18-yard score against Old Dominion.

“You can’t run RPOs (run-pass options) unless the quarterback has a combination of arm and speed,” Lesley said. “He’s athletic. He can throw on the run.”

Like Kansas, Virginia Tech also attempts to employ a run-heavy scheme into its offense by utilizing its committee of three running backs.

The Hokies’ top three runners – Keshawn King, Jalen Holston and Chance Black – have received many attempts to carry the ball in Virginia Tech’s offensive sets that include multiple running backs and tight ends, which is what West Virginia saw a lot of against Kansas.

“They’re going to find ways to run the ball,” Brown said. “That’s who they want to be. They do a really nice job in the run game. We gotta be ready.”

King leads Virginia Tech with 175 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Holston (126 yards, two touchdowns) and Black (78 yards) also provide a spark in the offense.

“Their running backs are as good as anyone we’ve played,” Lesley said of the Hokies. “Their offensive line is solid. We’ve seen how people will attack us with a lot of motions and shifts. They do some things with the run that can definitely give you some issues.”

Lesley added his defense has been improving since the setback to Kansas in Week 2, and the players showed flashes of their potential in the win over Towson after allowing just seven points and allowing just 180 yards of offense compared to the Mountaineers’ 624.

“It’s just playing the way we’re capable of playing,” Lesley said. “We have some growing pains, but they’re still playing hard. One win doesn’t make me feel any better about how we performed a week ago, though. The same goes for Game 1 (against Pittsburgh).

“When you have two good football teams, you can’t make these mistakes. If we continue to build on Saturday, we’ll be fine.”

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