Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU’s Marchiol has shown impressive mettle for a young quarterback

MORGANTOWN — If nothing else, West Virginia quarterback Nicco Marchiol has proven he isn’t afraid of the spotlight.

For the second time in his young career, the backup quarterback was thrust into service due to injury Saturday night and was able to provide a steady hand that allowed the Mountaineers’ defense and running game to secure a victory.

The first time it happened was a 24-19 road win at Oklahoma State last year, the second was Saturday night in a 17-6 Backyard Brawl victory over rival Pitt.

“He’s had two wins where he’s played a lot of snaps, on the road at Oklahoma State…and then (Saturday) in a really tough spot,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “The biggest rival we have, on national television and he gets thrust in there in the third series. A lot of times, people don’t win football games. A lot of time what happens is people lose them and he didn’t lose the game.”

Marchiol, a redshirt freshman, didn’t exactly break out in either game, but he avoided mistakes and led his team to victory both times. 

“Similar to the Oklahoma State game where you just go in there, manage the game, and get out of there with a victory,” Marchiol said. “I’m happy we can come out on top.”

Against the Cowboys last season, Marchiol only threw for 29 yards but did not turn the ball over as the Mountaineers racked up 250 rushing yards and the defense only allowed nine second-half points. 

Saturday was a similar story. Marchiol threw for 60 yards, but CJ Donaldson and Jaylen Anderson ran for 164 combined and the defense did not allow a touchdown and picked off the Panthers three times.

Marchiol’s one big mistake on Saturday was a fumbled snap in the redzone. It was remedied quickly, however, when safety Aubrey Burks intercepted Pitt on the ensuing drive and Marchiol threw a touchdown pass to tight end Kole Taylor on the very next play.

“That’s complimentary football,” Marchiol said. “Offense not getting the job done and the defense finding a way…That was a mental error but quarterbacks, especially young quarterbacks, can struggle with dwelling on the past and remembering the negative plays rather than the positive ones.”

Starting quarterback Garrett Greene was injured on the Mountaineers’ second possession and did not return, leaving the majority of the game up to Marchiol. 

“The backup quarterback position is one of the most interesting and challenging positions in all of sports,” Marchiol admitted. “You prep like you’re the starter all week and you may not do anything for three-and-a-half hours, but that’s the job. And then the rare occurrences, like (Saturday), my number is called and I was just getting the ball to the guys who are faster than me and managing the game. That’s become one of my skill sets, just getting in there and being consistent, being disciplined.”

Brown, who calls the plays for WVU’s offense, said he ditched his play sheet when Marchiol went in and instead referred to some handwritten note he had. The Mountaineers finished with just 211 offensive yards but still got the win.

“Once you get a feel for what kind of game it’s going to be… you’ve got to be able to adjust,” Brown said. “I had some notes that I took at halftime and then I kind of maintained those notes on how they were playing us. We had to completely pivot and I think we did a good enough job to where we didn’t screw it up and we did enough to win.”

Although Greene didn’t have much time on the field, Marchiol said he was still a big part of the win.

“A very, very important part to the success of the team I think was Garrett because he played a little bit of both of a coach to me and camping me down when things didn’t go my way,” Marchiol said. “I’ll take as much help as I can get. I don’t claim to know everything, so anytime somebody’s willing to give me a pointer or tell me something that they see, I’m all ears.”

Brown will provide an update on Greene’s status during his weekly press conference Monday afternoon. The Mountaineers’ next game is another home contest, this time against Texas Tech (3:30 p.m., ESPN+). If Greene isn’t able to play, Brown said he has nothing but confidence in Marchiol.

“He managed the game well. For not getting a whole bunch of reps throughout the week, I thought he managed and handled it pretty well,” Brown said. “If he’s the guy next Saturday — if that’s the way it plays out — he’ll have a full week of practice and the expectation is he’ll play much improved, and I think he will.”