Grier Looking For More Efficiency

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia’s loss to Utah in the Heart of Dallas Bowl revealed a number of holes in the Mountaineers’ offense.

First, and foremost, it showed that the Mountaineers were unmanned at the quarterback position with the loss of then-junior Will Grier sidelined with a broken hand suffered in WVU’s 28-14 loss to Texas.

Secondly, the Utes prevent unit laid open another blackeye that had haunted the Mountaineers all season long — horrible third down efficiency.

West Virginia was limited to six first downs – one rushing – while accumulating a mere 153 total yards on a season low 51 plays.

Numbers made even worse when you factor in that the Mountaineers converted on only two of their 14 third down plays (14 percent). And ones which meant WVU’s 3-3-5 defense was forced to stay on the field for more time than its depleted numbers would tolerate.

“There’s a lot of talk on efficiency right now, especially on third downs, and just trying to get the most efficient play that we can,” Grier said. “We’re having a lot of good talks, and spring is a good time to work on it.”

Part of the issue surrounded the loss of Grier, who was replaced by redshirt sophomore Chris Chugunov, while an equal amount revolved around the decision of leading rusher Justin Crawford electing to forgo the game and an offensive front minus its most experienced players — senior Kyle Bosch and junior Yodney Cajuste.

And, work is what coach Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital are doing with their stable of signal-callers – which include newcomers Jack Allison and Trey Lowe.

“Our third-down efficiency, we want it to be better,” Grier said. “There were some situations where we know we could have had a better play or could have had a better mindset going into the third down than we did.

“It’s miserable tape to watch that we’ve watched the past couple of days because you’re watching all of the failures on third down But, it’s good tape to watch because you can say, ‘What could we have done differently?’ We’ve picked up and tried to take it and get into more efficient plays to become more efficient on third down, especially.”

And with weapons like David Sills V, who led the country with 18 touchdown receptions on the way to earning All-American status, Gary Jennings Jr. – the team’s leader in receptions and yards – and the speedy Marcus Simms.

Grier will have a couple of new targets as well in University of Alabama transfer T.J. Simmons and University of Miami transfer Jevoni Haskins.

“I love the way they are coming along,” Grier said. “They are hard workers, and they are really talented guys. They’ve jumped on board and have some time to keep developing. I look forward to them joining us.”

Obviously, more targets mean more chances to improve upon a third-down attack which made good on only 62 of 185 opportunities (34 percent) as WVU finished the season with an 7-6 mark and three straight losses.

“I think that speaks back to the high-percentage plays,” Grier said. “Instead of throwing the ball deep every play, maybe take a higher efficiency throw. Like I said, that’s really the talk right now. That’s our focus right now, just higher percentages.”

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