MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — WVU football was full go during its Saturday practice — even the quarterbacks.
The Mountaineers ramped up their physicality as they donned full pads for the first time this spring, introducing full-speed tackling into their preparations. The quarterbacks were as much a part of that tackling as the rest of the team, but Neal Brown said that some defenders were timid to lay a hit on them.
“Our defensive players, they’re still used to not hitting them, so they weren’t totally comfortable with it,” Brown said. “We’re going to do that for the next two tackle situations as well.”
In between the thuds, though, Brown said his quarterbacks continued to show growth.
Garrett Greene ran with the first team on Saturday as part of the quarterback carousel. He struggled to throw the ball during his redshirt freshman season, hitting just two targets over 20 yards during his redshirt freshman season.
Greene showed improvement in practice, hitting multiple receivers for deep touchdown throws and leaving an impression on his coaches.
“Garrett threw the deep ball well to me,” Brown said. That’s the thing that really stuck out, is he threw the deep ball well.”
Brown evaluated freshman Nicco Marchiol’s Saturday performance as “feast or famine.” The game has yet to truly slow down for the rising freshman (in fact, he is still a high school senior), but he is showing flashes of potential throughout practices.
“He went out there, and he got reps with the ones in Power Five football,” Brown said. “No offense to Hamilton High School, where he played last year, they’re really good, but there’s a little bit of difference between that and going out and playing against our first group of defenders, right? So the game’s happening fast.”
Brown did praise Marchiol for his resilience. At one point, he threw an interception, but he bounced back and performed well for the rest of the practice “and he didn’t hang his head.”
Will “Goose” Crowder also impressed the coaches in practice and showed that he can be a dual threat quarterback. He scored a touchdown at one point with his feet, reaching the end zone on a draw play.
“I thought he did a good job of moving up in the pocket and hitting some plays downfield,” Brown said.