MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In the moments following West Virginia’s season-opening loss to No. 7 Penn State on Saturday, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown called any notion that starting quarterback Garrett Greene can’t throw an “absolute fallacy.”
Brown defended the junior quarterback, who completed 16-of-27 pass attempts for 162 yards against what is believed to be one of the top defenses in the country.
Greene’s 16 completions set a new single-game high for the dual-threat QB and equaled his total number of completions from the 2021 season. Saturday marked just the third time in his career he completed double-digit passes in one game.
West Virginia’s coaches know Greene can hit his intended target. But completing passes at key moments is the next step they want to see out of him in his progression.
“We got to execute the pass game in critical pass situations, we’ve got to be able to execute,” Brown said Monday. “We just didn’t make the throw on a couple.”
Two of Greene’s incompletions were recorded officially as drops. Two more incompletions came on back-to-back passes in the latter stages of the first quarter, which put the Mountaineers into a 3rd & 10 situation. West Virginia capped off the drive with a touchdown, as Greene moved the sticks on a 37-yard pass to Devin Carter.
One possession later, Greene overthrew Carter on a shot downfield, as the NC State transfer appeared to have a step on his defender. Then, after running for a big gain on third and long, Greene threw behind Traylon Ray, who was open on a crossing route, on what would’ve been a stick-moving pass on fourth down. WVU was trailing by one touchdown at the time, and had moved across the 50-yard line.
“The negatives would be not being able to execute passes in critical pass situations,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott said.
When asked if Greene was throwing to the right receivers, Scott added, “Yeah for the most part, you just got to be able to make those throws. He was seeing it real well.”
Trailing by 14 points in the third quarter, Greene again had the offense on the move, but the drive stalled. He was unable to connect with Preston Fox, who was tightly covered by a Nittany Lions safety, in the end zone on third down. One play later, on 4th & 7, Greene once again looked Fox’s way but could not complete the pass under duress.
His final incompletion of the night came with 5:35 to go in the fourth quarter. After making back-to-back throws downfield to Carter with pinpoint accuracy, Greene sailed a pass well out of the reach of tight end Kole Taylor, who had gotten in between a couple of defenders near the Penn State five-yard line. WVU eventually scored on the drive, but could’ve possibly gotten into the endzone sooner.
“For him, he missed some throws,” Brown said. “He’s got to make layups. He had two really bad throws on screens. Those were layups, you got to make those. And then we missed a couple downfield. One of them he had pressure, but what we talked to him about was you got to make 100 percent of your layups, and he didn’t. But he competed, and I think you can see why guys like playing for him. He competed and gave us a chance.”
On top of his 162 passing yards, Greene tallied 71 rushing yards and one touchdown on 15 carries. He rushed for more yards than either of Penn State’s top running backs, while he and CJ Donaldson combined for 152 of West Virginia’s 146 net rushing yards.
Brown felt Greene made good decisions on when to throw the ball and when to tuck it and run. That is one of the most notable areas of progression from last season for Greene.
Now that he has taken that part of his game to the next level, West Virginia is hoping he can improve on completing passes at critical junctures of the game.