Football, Local Sports, Sports, WVU Sports

Marcus Simms is West Virginia’s best deep threat receiver

LUBBOCK, Texas – A different receiver seemingly steps up as West Virginia’s primary scoring weapon each week. But for the last three games, only one has consistently served as Will Grier’s go-to deep ball threat.

Junior Marcus Simms recorded his third consecutive 100-yard performance in West Virginia’s 42-34 win at Texas Tech. He finished with a game-high nine catches for 138 yards, including a 45-yard strike that put the Mountaineers up 21-0 in the first quarter. It’s the third straight week Simms has set a new single-game career high for yardage.

Simms isn’t exactly doing it against soft zone defenses, either. Teams know they have to get physical with the 6-foot-1, 196-pound speedster.

“He’s playing at a really high level,” Grier said. “He’s winning in man-press coverage. He makes really tough catches. Third-down tough catches that move the chains. Really trustworthy guy to go to. His hands are great. When you build that trust, it’s easy to look for him out there.”

Trustworthiness was crucial in a game where West Virginia’s receivers were afflicted by an unexpected case of the drops. Three of Grier’s first four incompletions were dropped by his intended targets, and that total at least doubled by the end of the game.

“That’s just something you haven’t seen often,” said WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. “It’s something we’ve emphasized all spring and fall… [Marcus] was the one catching the ball. At one point in the game I was just like, ‘Let’s get the ball to 8 every time.’”

Dana Holgorsen likes what he sees from Simms, whom he has not yet allowed to speak with reporters this year.

“It’s just all about consistency,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve got to get some other guys to play consistently like that.”

Holgorsen said Simms is playing so much more consistently on Saturdays because he’s brought the same attitude to the practice field during the week.

“He’s shown flashes of it in the past, and he’s been inconsistent practice-wise,” Holgorsen said. “In spring he was inconsistent. Camp, he was really consistent. And this is three weeks in a row that he’s played better. The better he plays, the more he’s going to get targeted.”

Simms has not been WVU’s touchdown man thus far.

David Sills led the way with a pair of touchdowns in the season opener against Tennessee. Gary Jennings scored three times against Youngstown State, and Sills got a hat trick of his own against Kansas State last week. Jennings found the end zone twice more Saturday to lead the way against Texas Tech.

But even though those guys are scoring more, Holgorsen says no one is playing better than Simms.

“He’s arguably our top receiver right now,” Holgorsen said. “And I think we’ve got a couple of pretty good ones.”