Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Practice made perfect as West Virginia’s 2-minute offense was red-hot down the stretch

MORGANTOWN — There was no panic when West Virginia got the ball back trailing by four points with just 1:14 left Saturday night’s game against Baylor. The Mountaineers had no timeouts and needed to get into the endzone in just 74 seconds in order to come back to Morgantown with a win.

Fortunately, the Mountaineers know a thing or two about running a two-minute drill.

“That’s something we do every week,” quarterback Garrett Greene said. “Every Wednesday Coach (Neal) Brown gives us a new scenario, whether we need three points to win it, a field goal to tie or a touchdown to win it. That’s something we rep.”

Greene calmly led the team down the field, hitting two big passes to receiver Hudson Clement and scrambling for a first down before hitting running back Jahiem White on a wheel route for the go-ahead score, taking just 50 seconds off the clock. The Mountaineers ultimately won, 34-31.

WVU’s effectiveness shouldn’t have come as a shock to anyone who watched the team over the final four games of the season, especially to anyone who had watched the entire game against Baylor, as the Mountaineers pulled off the same feat just before halftime.

Leading 20-14 at the time, West Virginia got the ball with 1:46 to play before the break and no timeouts. Just like they did a few hours later, the Mountaineers went right down the field and scored a touchdown when Greene ran in from a yard out with nine seconds left.

“Garrett’s really good at the two-minute drive,” Brown said. “We scored two touchdowns (Saturday) in less than a minute-and-a-half both times with zero timeouts.”

On the two drives, Greene was 5-of-8 passing for 108 yards and ran four times for 29 yards. He was responsible for both touchdowns.

“I’ve practiced the two-minute drill a lot and I think it just comes with awareness and knowing where you are on the field,” Greene said. “Coach Brown says if you’re outside the numbers, get out of bounds, and if you’re inside the numbers, get what you can and get down.”

WVU ran successful two-minute drives in all four of its final games in the regular season, starting with BYU and ending Saturday at Baylor.

Against BYU, WVU went 78 yards in 1:05 and kicked a field goal before halftime. The following week at Oklahoma, the Mountaineers had a minute before halftime and went 75 yards and scored a touchdown. 

Then against Cincinnati, they again went 75 yards, this time with 1:32 to work with, and scored another touchdown just ahead of the break.

“We do them a bunch,” Brown said. “That’s something I learned from Mark (Stoops) when I was at Kentucky, a lot of situational football and we do it.”

While the team’s two-minute offense ended the regular season on a hot streak, that wasn’t the case earlier in the year. The team scored a couple of times right before halftime earlier, a touchdown against Duquesne and a field goal against Texas Tech, but both of those drives took around three minutes.

A last-second field goal in the first half at TCU would have counted, but a penalty forced a re-kick that was missed. Greene had another heroic finish with an 88-yard touchdown drive in the final minute at Houston, but the Cougars ultimately won that game.

It is no surprise that as Greene improved throughout the season, so too did WVU’s two-minute drills.

“In practice, there are a lot of mistakes in these two-minute drills, but there are also learning points,” Brown said. “We kind of just let (Greene) play. He’s like my oldest daughter, some lessons are hard and you’ve got to learn them by doing them. He’s learned some hard lessons in some two-minute drills in practice, but those have helped him become the two-minute guy that he is now.”

The Mountaineers averaged more than 35 points per game over their final seven contests of the season and a sizeable chunk of that scoring came because they developed the ability to take advantage of every second on the clock and squeeze out points at the end of halves.

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