MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — After leading WVU to a gritty three-point win over Oklahoma, Greene made his first collegiate start against Kansas State. He will make it two in a row on Saturday as he gets the nod for the regular season finale against Oklahoma State.
One of Greene’s greatest strengths is his ability to improvise. According to WVU’s coaching staff, last week showed the sophomore quarterback that can also be a weakness.
“The biggest improvement from last week to this week, he’s got to take the layups,” said head coach Neal Brown. “He’s always looking for the big plays. You got to take the easy ones and we didn’t do as good of a job as taking some of the easy ones Kansas State was giving us last week.”
Greene got off to a shaky start against the ‘Cats, throwing a pick-six on WVU’s third play of the game. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said he felt confident that play didn’t mean the day was going to be a disaster. Knowing the type of player Greene is, he knew he would be able to quickly move on from it.
He did just that on the next drive as he marched the offense down the field and found Sam James for the 26-yard score.
“That’s a heck of a response to throwing a pick-six in your first start that early in the game,” Harrell said.
The OC filed that play as a poor decision for the young quarterback. Harrell thought the opposite about Greene’s second interception that came on WVU’s first play of the fourth quarter. Kansas State capitalized with a touchdown three plays later. He said it was a good read, Greene just didn’t execute on the throw.
Harrell described Greene as a player whose natural personality is to go rogue. It was that impromptu ability that helped WVU defeat Oklahoma two weeks ago, but it can have its disadvantages as well.
“The hard part in coaching is you can’t game plan that and don’t when it’s coming,” Harrell said. “But there is an advantage to moving around and making some plays. When the easy stuff is there, he has to take it, too. The stuff you can reproduce, the stuff you can predict, the stuff you can game plan. Those plays have to be made.”
Both Harrell and Brown pointed to certain situations against K-State where Greene tried to make the big play instead of making the one available that would move the chains.
Now, the signal caller did show his ability to make the splash plays with a 71-yard touchdown to Sam James — a deep seam pass into a one-high safety look, something Brown said is not taught by the coaching staff.
Brown said he and Harrell have to be comfortable with “a little bit unknown” with Greene as QB1. There will be times when he makes a really good play, the aforementioned touchdown, and there will be times when he just makes a bad decision. As he gains more experience, the hope is the former will outweigh the latter.
There’s a big difference between going in for one drive or a few plays to playing a full game. Now that Greene has a complete, four-quarter showing under his belt, his coaches expect increased discipline and decision-making.
“I think the learning point for him is every play is not going to be a 70-yard touchdown. Every play isn’t going to be you pulling it down for a 40-yard run. It’s okay to throw the hitch and let Bryce get 15. Those are fine. Those are good plays,” Brown said. “You stack those and you have the chance to go score touchdowns.”