MORGANTOWN — Neal Brown knows who will start under center for West Virginia when the Mountaineers open the season at Penn State next week, he’s just not telling.
“I know who we’re going to play, I know who’s going to start,” Brown said Monday. “I don’t know if we’ll share that or not, but that’s been decided.”
Brown said the team has not even made the formal announcement internally just yet, but the players basically already know.
“They know, we just haven’t done anything real formal with it,” he said. “We have two really good quarterbacks and I feel good about both of them. One of them is just a little bit further ahead.”
The competition between junior Garrett Greene and redshirt-freshman Nicco Marchiol has lasted nearly nine months, starting from the end of the 2022 season until now.
“Really going back to January there’s been a progression,” Brown said. “I think there’s been a progression leadership-wise and a progression from feeling comfortable in their own skin, and I think that happens with maturity.”
It seems the competition sorted itself out organically, with one simply separating himself from the other over time. The team’s final fall scrimmage on Saturday reinforced that for Brown.
“(The scrimmage) kind of verified what had happened throughout camp,” he said. “Both of the guys have gotten better, but one of them has performed at a higher level and we’re going to continue to push them. We could play both of them in the game and I feel comfortable with both of them. It’s just it’s been clear who is ahead at this point.”
In the end, Brown said decision-making and overall accuracy made the difference in the position battle.
“This isn’t a negative on either one of them, I feel confident with both of them,” Brown said. “We haven’t really gotten into our Penn State game plan, but we could definitely play both.”
As the upperclassman, Greene is the more experienced of the two. He’s played in 22 career games, but has only started two and spent the early part of his career as strictly a gadget player. Greene’s first real run at quarterback came at the end of last season. He saw increased playing time in the last four games, starting the final two.
Brown said Greene’s experience did not give him an unfair advantage in the competition, however.
“It was nine months and you go into it open-minded,” Brown said. “You’ve got the parameters that you’re going to hold it and who you’re going to do the reps and we stayed pretty consistent through Saturday with that.”
Even though Marchiol only played sparingly in three games last season and attempted just 13 passes, Brown said he was confident they had enough information about the two to make the right decision.
“There’s a big database,” he said. “If you think about winter workouts, spring practice through the summer OTAs and into fall camp, there are a lot of data points. And so who rolls out there first in the game has been decided over a lot of data points.”
It’s also not a decision that is set in stone for the entire season, according to Brown.
“We’ve got to continue to get better,” he said. “Two weeks before your first game you don’t say, ‘This is it, this is who we are.’ There’s got to be continuous growth, but I’m pleased where they’re at.”