The way West Virginia quarterback Will Grier beat Kansas State a year ago continues to haunt the Wildcats.
Grier, now a Heisman Trophy contender, threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns in Manhattan last season. It was an impressive effort that helped the Mountaineers win 28-23. Yet, few from the K-State sideline remember much about the plays Grier made with his arm. They can’t forget the plays he made with his feet.
“It is amazing how he has been able to avoid tackles from some very fine athletes,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “He’d be a great dodgeball player. He makes people miss quite well and that has freed him up quite well.”
He was certainly elusive last year against the Wildcats. Time and again, Grier evaded pressure and extended plays by running out of the pocket. He gave himself so much time on certain plays that K-State’s secondary stood no chance in coverage.
Grier slipped through the cracks and heaved a touchdown pass of 75 yards that gave the Mountaineers a 7-6 lead and later deflated Snyder Family Stadium with a 30-yard score on the final play of the first half in which he escaped two tackles and threw from the left sideline.
“We don’t have anyone that can catch him, from any of our up-front guys,” Snyder said.
Surrounded by a loaded supporting cast of players, including star receivers David Sills and Gary Jennings, Grier is once again lighting up the scoreboard this season. He has completed 46 of 60 passes for 761 yards and nine touchdowns.
That’s hard to ignore. Still, K-State defenders say their primary focus this week has nothing to do with Grier’s arm.
“Just make sure we don’t let Will run all over us with his scrambling,” defensive end Joe Davies said. “That is our biggest point right now.”
All this praise might seem surprising when you consider Grier rushed for negative yardage against K-State last season and hasn’t eclipsed four yards on any of his runs this season. He isn’t your normal scrambler, but he is difficult to tackle.
That’s what makes this a unique matchup.
“One thing I noticed, especially from playing him last year, is that he is a really good at scrambling,” K-State safety Kendall Adams said. “When he scrambles, he doesn’t just take off running, he keeps his eyes down field. It is really important for us to stay in coverage when he leaves the pocket.”