Will Grier’s 5 TD passes lift WVU past Kansas State
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t concerned about quarterback Will Grier being overwhelmed by the attention and pressure that comes with being a Heisman Trophy candidate. Grier has thrown far too many passes. Played in far too many games. Diagnosed far too many defenses to let the hype train get in his head.
“I’m not worried about overloading him,” Holgorsen said. “He’s mature. He’s grounded. He’s comfortable on where he’s at. He knows how to handle this. He’s a professional that’s in college.”
Looks like it.
Grier and the 12th-ranked Mountaineers overcame a sluggish start to drill Kansas State, 35-6, in the Big 12 opener for both teams Saturday. The senior completed 25 of 35 passes for 356 yards with five touchdowns, three of them to David Sills, and two interceptions as West Virginia (3-0) enjoyed a rare breather against the Wildcats.
The previous four meetings between the two schools had been decided by a total of 13 points. Not this time. Once Grier and the Mountaineers got rolling late in the first half, it was over.
Grier, as he has done since taking over the starting job at the beginning of last season, led the way. Having one of the best red zone targets in the country helps — all three of Sills’ touchdowns came on 1-yard passes — but Grier loves to go deep, too. He found Marcus Simms for an 82-yard catch-and-run to open the scoring and later lofted a perfect rainbow to Tevin Bush that turned into a 62-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“Everybody looks at passing stats, but I love the way he manages a game,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said of Grier. “They allow him to call the offense, so to speak, and he does a marvelous job of that.”
Skylar Thompson completed 11 of 17 passes for 145 yards for Kansas State (2-2), and Alex Delton came on late with the game out of hand and finished 7 of12 for 82 yards. Delton also added 28 yards rushing but by then it was far too late for the Wildcats.
“We were just a bad offense, period,” Snyder said. “Like sandlot football for a while.”
Trailing just 7-0 midway through the second quarter and facing fourth-and-inches at the Kansas State 43, the Wildcats opted to go for it. Thompson ran a quick option and pitched the ball to running back Alex Barnes, who was hit for a 4-yard loss.
Seven plays later, Grier found Sills for a 1-yard score to put the Mountaineers up 14-0. After forcing Kansas State to a three-and-out, West Virginia needed just 55 seconds to go 73 yards, the last one coming on a pretty grab in the back of the end zone by Sills, to make it 21-0 at the break.
When asked if he would run the same play again on fourth day again, Snyder responded simply “yes, yes, yes” before adding a not-so subtle dig at his team.
“I went in the locker room and I accepted the responsibility of being behind in the ball game at halftime with our players because there were two touchdowns following that,” Snyder said. “But I can’t coach a team that can’t get six inches on a play.”