A Little Know-Howe: Gold-Blue WVU Spring Game to Feature Debut of Will Grier ... Other Story Lines
It's not a 'real' game, but it's as close as we'll get until September 3.
West Virginia's annual Gold-Blue spring 'game' takes place today at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Here are the top three things I'll be watching:
1. New quarterback Will Grier
2. Will Grier
3. Will Grier
I'm kidding. But, only slightly.
As usual in the spring, there are multiple intriguing storylines with the team. There are new names to check out. Who will be the breakout star this season as Rasul Douglas and Justin Crawford were last year? How will the offensive line look? The running back position is loaded. Jake Spavital takes over play calling duties from Dana Holgorsen.
None of those storylines, however, will generate the interest Will Grier has and will. Grier is the most highly decorated quarterback ever to attend WVU.
A former high school player of the year AND a guy who started his college career by going 6-0 as a freshman at Florida.
We heard all last season how fantastic Grier looked leading the scout team. We've heard whispers this spring he's as good as advertised.
Now we see. So, yes ... there's no doubt I will spend the bulk of my time at the spring game today watching the quarterback.
But, there are two other areas I'm interested in as well.
You have heard many of the names. We've seen them play. Ka'Raun White, Gary Jennings, Jovon Durante and David Sills to name a few.
Each caught balls last year. But, this year is different. Now someone (preferably more than one) has to step up and fill the giant shoes left behind by Shelton Gibson and Dakiel Shorts. Those two combined for 55% of the receiving yards in 2016 and 50% of the touchdown catches. There's experience with this group, but is there a star?
2. Who makes plays defensively?
Tony Gibson did a remarkable job last season. His unit lost 8 starters from the 2015 season, yet the defense managed to get better.
West Virginia led the Big 12 in scoring defense (conference games) and total defense last year.
Rasul Douglas blossomed into a pro that led the Big 12 in interceptions.
Who is this year's Rasul Douglas? Is there someone on that roster that goes from being just a guy to being THE guy?
Keep an eye on David Long. He's someone the coaches keep bringing up. They think he's fantastic and has a chance to be one of the real stars on the defense this year.
Also, remember, West Virginia gets Dravon Askew-Henry back from injury this season. You won't see him today, but assuming he's ready to go in September that's a big boost to this defense.
Another guy that should help this season - Michael Ferns. Ferns is the highly touted recruit from a year ago that missed all of last season due to injury.
Tony Gibson has said before, Ferns would have played last year as a true freshman had he been healthy. Getting him back in the lineup will be another great addition.
Add in a seasoned Kyzir White (who you won't see today) and it's not hard to see this defense could be poised again to surprise people.
Replacing eight starters in back-to-back seasons is no easy task. But, after the magic Tony Gibson worked last year, I would expect another strong defensive unit this season.
What will you be keeping an eye on during today's game?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @BradHowe07 and let me know.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Will Grier, while BHS alum Dylan Tonkery is shown below. Photos are courtesy of WVU Sports Communications.