The Dominion Post  

Timing key between Chugunov, starting receivers

Created on:   Tue, Nov 21, 2017   10:14 PM

Last modified:   Tue, Nov 21, 2017   10:14 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Through 10 games, there was no doubt WVU quarterback Will Grier built a rapport with his top receivers.

David Sills leads the nation in touchdown receptions, while Gary Jennings and Ka’Raun White are nationally ranked in the top 20 in total receiving yards. All three were named Biletnikoff Award semifinalists, and Sills was announced as a finalist on Nov. 21.

But, when Grier went out with a broken finger last Saturday, against Texas, there was a ripple-affect that spread across not just the receivers, but the entire team.

“I think there was a period there in the second quarter where everybody was like, ‘Oh, crap,’ ” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “That’s probably the human element of what we do. I don’t know if you can script a play that can be more devastating to a team, from taking points off the board, to the defense having to go back out there and everybody saw [Grier’s finger]. I think it really effected us for about a quarter.”

Chris Chugunov was summoned to replace Grier and was dealt the task of replacing a quarterback having one of the best seasons in school history. Not only that, but in his three seasons in Morgantown, Chugunov hasn’t played live with the starting wide receivers and it showed early. Chugunov made the right reads but missed open players down the field.

“It’s timing, Holgorsen said. “We wanted Chugs to get the ball out fairly quick, those (Texas) guys were pretty good up front any trying to get there. Chugs knows what to do and where to go with the ball. He needs those reps.”

Holgorsen said Chugunov has been in the program for almost three seasons, but practicing in a controlled environment is different than, “being blistered by defensive linemen and linebackers.”

Getting those live reps against Texas has given Chugunov more confidence and experience prior to his first start Saturday, at Oklahoma. Still, timing with receivers takes time.

“I think we’ll be improved this week, but is it going to be good enough to score enough to win? We’ll have to wait and see,” Holgorsen said.

Jennings, White and Sills all came into the program the same seasons as Chugunov. Sills was even competing for the backup quarterback job with him before being switched to receiver.

The practice reps have been there in the past, but WVU will have some extra practice time this week, because of Thanksgiving.

“Chugs hasn’t thrown to the [first team] receivers a lot, but this week, we’re just going to have to get the timing down,” Jennings said. “We’ll work with him on 1-on-1 reps, with team reps, and we’re just going to have to get the continuity down.”

Both Jennings and White know that Grier can freelance plays with his ability to move in and out of the pocket while Chugunov is likely to stand in there and make a throw — possibly one that even comes in a little hotter.

“He throws a little bit of a different ball then Will, it comes out a little faster,” White said. “But overall, it’s not too different.”


Holgorsen said Tuesday that junior-college transfer David Isreal will be the backup quarterback and if needed, will burn his redshirt. He is the only other eligible scholarship quarterback on the team.

As for a third-string option, Holgorsen didn’t say specifics, but there is a plan in place. Both William Crest and Sills were quarterbacks when they signed with the Mountaineers.