Garrett Greene was wearing his usual number six on Saturday, but if you squinted just enough, you might’ve mistaken it for number five.
West Virginia’s junior quarterback played perhaps the best game of his career in a 42-21 win over Cincinnati, joining exclusive company throwing for 210 yards and a touchdown and running for 154 yards and three more scores.
It was just the third time in WVU history that a player both threw and ran for 150 yards. The other two instances were both by the great Pat White, who wore that number five.
“Garrett bounced back, he’s the ultimate competitor,” WVU coach Neal Brown said. “I knew he would play well after not playing as well last week. He was really, really good (Saturday).”
Greene played poorly in a lopsided loss to Oklahoma last week, but rebounded in a major way against the Bearcats, racking up 364 yards of total offense with four touchdowns.
“I was really itching to get back out there because what I showed at Oklahoma wasn’t my brand of football,” Greene said. “It wasn’t good enough to compete on the road and I was just looking forward to getting out there.”
That Greene’s performance came against the Bearcats made it all the more fitting, as WVU quarterbacks have historically put up big numbers against UC.
White himself had multiple standout performances in his career against Cincinnati. In 2006, White threw for 98 yards and a touchdown and ran for 93 and two more in a 42-24 WVU victory. The following year, he threw for 140 and ran for 155 and a pair of touchdowns in a 28-23 triumph.
Following a pair of losses to UC, Geno Smith continued the run of success, throwing for four touchdowns in a 37-10 win in 2010. He followed that up by throwing for 372 yards and a touchdown during a 24-21 win in 2011.
That 2011 game was the last meeting between WVU and Cincinnati prior to Saturday’s contest, where Greene continued the run of Mountaineer quarterbacks having success against the Bearcats.
“There’s a lot of skills he has, but the best trait he has is his competitiveness,” Brown said. “(Oklahoma) ate at him last week and he took that personal and came back and performed.”
West Virginia’s offense has put up at least 30 points in every game since its off week at the beginning of October, all started by a fully healthy Greene. The team has scored at least 37 points in three of its last four games with Oklahoma being the lone exception.
“It’s the investment and the time out guys put into this week in and week out,” Greene said. “I think it’s just a testament to how much these guys care about each other.”
Greene won’t finish the season with a stellar completion percentage, but everything else has been great for the first-year starter. Following Saturday’s win, Greene is up to 24 total touchdowns this season, 13 passing and 11 rushing, with just four interceptions. He has 1,909 passing yards and 695 rushing yards on the season.
“We’re asking him to make a lot of decisions and we’re putting a lot on his plate,” Brown said. “I think he’s at a point in his career where the best way for us to be successful is to put a lot on his plate.”
Of the 65 offensive plays WVU ran against Cincinnati, Brown estimates that Greene had to make a decision on 50 of them.
“I think I just want to win,” Greene said. “I don’t care if I have to throw the ball every down or if I have to pull it every time. The main thing is winning ballgames, that’s what I’m here to help this team do.”