Food, Will Grier And Adjustments

Mountaineers find winning formula vs. Vols

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen looks at a replay in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ever wonder what a college football coach does when his team is forced to wait out a prolonged halftime?

Well, if you are West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, the plan is a simple one.

“Watched football games, ate two bananas, had a couple cold beverages and then obviously made a whole bunch of adjustments,” Holgorsen said following his team’s 40-14 season-opening victory over the University of Tennessee at Bank of America Stadium. “There’s only so much you can do. It was about an hour, I believe. Those things are usually 12 minutes, so we can’t just sit there and talk to the players because you need to let them relax and get away from it a little bit as well.

“But, really happy with the way the coaching staff approached it. There’s a lot of communication and a lot of decisions that needed to be made, and I think we did a really good job of that.”

And, as they say, the proof was in the pudding.

Leading by a slim 13-7 margin after the first 30 minutes of action, WVU rode the arm of senior quarterback Will Grier and a defense which amassed 12 tackles for loss.

“Will has been around here for a long time,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a fifth-year starting quarterback. The game should be slower to him. He should not panic in situations. I feel like he got caught with the ball too many times for my liking. He was scrambling around there which we want to prevent.

“He did a much better job of controlling the game and getting us into the right play and getting it out of his hands in the second half. That’s the Will that we need to see. Again, we didn’t know what to expect out of these guys (Tennessee) either. It probably took two quarters to be able to settle down, and then go into the locker room and make some adjustments. I think we went out there and did a really good job in the second half.”

One of those adjustments involved former Musselman High School standout Trevon Wesco. After hauling in only one pass for 1 yard at Oklahoma in 2017, the redshirt senior tight end pulled in two of Grier’s 25 completions for 35 yards.

“Wow, he just gives us another weapon to throw at defenses,” explained senior wideout David Sills V, who had a team-high seven receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. “Anyone who saw us in the spring knows how much he improved so it was no surprise to any of us to see him have that kind of game.”

Wesco, who had a two-point conversion reception in last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to Utah, rambled for 29 yards on his second reception which helped the Mountaineers put together an eight-play, 98-yard scoring drive for their final points of the contest.

“Those guys (the receivers) are unbelievable football players,” said Grier, who finished 25 of 34 for 429 yards and five touchdowns. “They work really hard out there. They made plays out there. And, it makes my job a whole lot easier. It is my job to get the ball in their hands.

“Having tight ends like Trevon (Wesco) and Jovani (Haskins) just gives me more targets to throw to.”

Game Notes

∫ Grier registered a career-high 429 yards passing. His previous high was 375 yards passing against Baylor last season.

∫ There were eight first-time starters for WVU against Tennessee: Wesco (TE), Marcus Simms (WR), Martell Pettaway (RB), Joe Brown (RG), Kenny Bigelow Jr. (NT), Jabril Robinson (DE), Charlie Benton (Sam) and Josh Norwood (RCB).

∫ WVU is 2-2 in games played in Charlotte and 9-7 in games played in the state of North Carolina. The Mountaineers have won 11 of its last 12 non-conference regular season games.

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