MORGANTOWN — WVU starting quarterback Garrett Greene did not practice Monday and will not practice Tuesday as he recovers from the ankle injury that kept him out of all but five plays Saturday night against Pitt.
Head coach Neal Brown said it’s too early to tell if the junior will be able to start this Saturday against Texas Tech.
“It’s an ankle injury and a lot of it has to do with how he responds over the next few days,” Brown said during his press conference Monday. “We won’t play him unless he can utilize his best skill set, which is his athleticism.”
Brown said that Greene won’t play unless he’s fully healthy and able to move around like normal.
“If he can move around and play like himself, then he’ll play. If he can’t, then he won’t,” Brown said. “I think it’s too early in the week to say. Some people bounce back from these a little quicker than others, but I think time will tell.”
In the meantime, redshirt freshman Nicco Marchiol, who played the rest of the game against the Panthers after Greene went out, will be getting the majority of reps in practice until Greene’s status is determined.
“If he can’t go, then Nicco will play and there’s a lot of trust with him in the locker room, guys believe in him,” Brown said. “Garrett didn’t practice (Monday) and he got every rep, Garrett won’t practice (Tuesday) and he’ll get every rep. You’ll see much-improved play by Nicco when he gets the majority of the reps (in practice).”
WVU’s playbook shrunk considerably when Marchiol went into the game on Saturday, with Brown saying he put his call sheet to the side and went with hand-written notes to call plays. With a full week of practice, however, Marchiol would be expected to handle everything.
“Our expectation is that if he plays, we’ll be really good on offense,” Brown said. “That’s the expectation for the staff and for the players on the offensive side of the ball.”
Marchiol completed 6 of 9 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown against Pitt. He fumbled a snap, but otherwise avoided any major mistakes and led the team to victory.
“He’s going to continue to get better,” Brown said. “The other night he did some things really well, but he also did some things where you could tell he’s a redshirt freshman and hasn’t played a whole lot.”
It was the second time Marchiol had played the majority of a game as an injury replacement and helped the Mountaineers win. He played the entire second half of the 2022 season finale at Oklahoma State, a 24-19 WVU victory.
“The last two opportunities he’s had to come in when Garrett’s been out, he’s done well and it’s been unexpected,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott said. “This will be the first opportunity he has where he has to prepare for it and think about it. The biggest thing for us is to calm him down and keep the game plan simple for him, get him some easy completion and get his confidence going.
“It’s different in a sense where he’ll be able to execute a little bit more of the gameplan than he’s been able to do in the two times he’s had the opportunity to go into the game. He’ll be able to do a lot more than he has.”
Marchiol was regarded as a four-star recruit when he signed with WVU in the 2022 recruiting class.
“He has got really high-end ability,” Brown said. “He’s more of an in-between-the-tackles kind of runner, he’s real physical. He’s really good with the ball in between the hashes, he’s got good velocity on it. He throws the deep ball well. He didn’t throw the ball as well down the field as he can.”
If Greene isn’t available on Saturday, true freshman Sean Boyle will be the second-string option behind Marchiol. Boyle enrolled at WVU early this spring out of Charlotte, NC, and has not yet seen the field as he is expected to redshirt this season.
“He was a little nervous on Saturday night,” Brown said. “I kind of looked at him like, ‘You know you’re next, right?’ and he gave me the big eyes. I don’t think he had really thought about that.”
Brown said Boyle will get about 25% of the reps in practice this week behind Marchiol.
“He’ll be ready if called upon,” Brown said. “It’s really on us as coaches to get him prepared but also to put him in a situation where he can have success.”
WVU only has three scholarship quarterbacks on its roster. Behind Boyle are walk-ons Scott Kean, Jackson Crist and Grant Cochran.
The other injury announcement made Monday was that cornerback Montre Miller is done for the season.
“He’s going to have surgery and he’s going to miss the remainder of the year,” Brown said.
Miller, who transferred from Kent State this offseason, only played in the season-opener at Penn State. As a redshirt senior, he will be out of eligibility following this season unless granted a medical redshirt.
“He’s going to have to seek an appeal,” Brown said. “I think he’s got a good case, but those things go to committee for it’s hard to tell.”
Running back Justin Johnson has also been out since the Penn State game but is nearing a return.
“Justin tried to go (last week) and is still not 100%,” Brown said. “We’ll have a better idea (Tuesday) on him. That’s the way we treat it most times, if they can’t go by Wednesday it’s really hard (to play). That’s not necessarily a rule in ink, but in general, that’s what we go by.”