Seldom does a football coach field as many questions about a backup quarterback as Neal Brown has about Garrett Greene.
There’s good reason for that — the sophomore has played more than the typical backup does when the starter is healthy, and fans have grown to love his ability to make plays with his feet. Greene has even made a big impact on box scores, as he sits as the Mountaineers’ second-leading rusher halfway through the season.
Greene has seen a steady flow of snaps in the first part of the season, putting together one of his best games in WVU’s blowout loss against Baylor. There, he rushed 10 times for 55 yards and a touchdown — his fourth of the season.
With no clear spell running back on the roster, Brown said he will utilize Greene against TCU with Jarret Doege as the starter, which has one of the worst rushing defenses in the Big 12.
“He’s gonna play, a lot of it will be how he goes about it this week, but yeah, he’ll play,” Brown said. “There are some opportunities.”
It’s clear that Greene and his feet provide an additional wrinkle for opponents to defend against — but his clear contrast from starter Doege, a pocket passer, adds wrinkles for the offense as well. Brown has said that the playbook has Doege plays and Garret plays — something that has caused issues for the offense in different parts of the season.
This came out against Texas Tech, for example, when Brown called one of the “Doege plays” for Greene. Brown was forced to burn a timeout, which came back to haunt the team as the clock wound down in the second half.
Before he gives the young quarterback more time, Brown says he wants to see more out of Greene in the passing game. Coming out of Tallahassee, Florida, Greene never played a traditional quarterback position in high school, which shows up on the field. His improvisational style has been a bit of a point of frustration for his coaches, who want him to develop his abilities to throw and go through progressions.
In fact, Greene has run the ball more times than he has thrown it regardless of the play calls (38 rushes vs. 20 passes), and he has 107 more rush yards than he has pass yards. Just once — against Long Island — has he completed a pass longer than 20 yards.
Doege, on the other hand, leads the conference with 240.7 passing yards per game — but struggles with a passing efficiency rating of 141.3.
“Garrett’s gotta continue to grow,” Brown said. “The deal is with Garrett, our receivers have been our most productive piece of our offense, and Garrett’s gotta continue his ability to get them the ball. That’s where he’s gotta show the most growth.”