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Will Grier's second half made for a brilliant homecoming from Charlotte



I've always believed that quarterback's craft is as much a point of view as a set of skills.

Sure, it's a requirement that the quarterback has arm talents and size and it helps a lot if his feet are fast enough to avoid the escape. But nothing matters if a quarterback can not argue reasonably in real time: if he can not distinguish between risk-taking and arrogance, he fails.

That pleased me most on Saturday over Will Grier, the former Davidson Day school star who had returned home as West Virginia quarterback in a 40-14 Tennessee victory. His numbers at the end of this – 25 scores from 34 attempts for 429 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions ̵

1; are the foundation of a Heisman Trophy campaign.

But what does not convey the bottom line is Grier misses his "A" game in the first half and that has not hurt his team greatly. He crashed a few receivers and the Mountaineers' lead was only 13-7 at halftime, but he still looked efficient.

I suspect that what the NFL scouts took in the back of the Bank of America Press Box from this game is that if Grier is not sharp enough to carry your team, he's smart enough not to join your team hurt.

Grier showed early patience and discretion, though admittedly missed some chances. He found the underlying recipient Tennessee's defense added to protect his young secondary. When he challenged the "Volunteers Down" field, he hit Mountaineers Wide Receiver T.J. Simmons for what became a 59-yard touchdown.

"We talked about that from January: being efficient," said West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. "I thought he coped with all the first-half adjustments to maturity."

Grier and his teammates had an excessively long time to rethink things at halftime. A blitz near Bank of America Stadium cleared the bleachers and added 65 minutes to the break between halves. Grier said it was strange to rest in the locker room so long, but he ate and hydrated, and whatever the coaches told him increased his performance.

His second half: touchdown completions of 35, 33, 28 and 10 yards. Fourteen completions of 19 trials. And 275 passing yards, which would have been good for more than four quarters.

Grier knows he's blessed with a wealth of goals: David Sills and Gary Jennings combined for 13 catches, 253 yards and three touchdowns. Nine other Mountaineers caught at least one pass.

Grier feels guilty as he stops the play-making of the receiver.

"They work really hard on making games, and that makes my job a lot easier," Grier said. "It's my job to get the ball in my hands.

" I put our boys in a better position than in the first half. We were 0 for 3 on the third page (conversions) in the first half and 5 of 6 in the second half. We emphasized that at halftime: We have to implement these third downs and we have to score in the red zone.

At age 23, Grier already had a wealth of life experience, but good and bad: An important national recruit, he chose Florida, then was suspended by the NCAA after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance he moved to West Virginia, got married, and became a father.

He's certainly not a kid, and he sounds like an adult to his teammates, coaches, and the media.

This will work well with the NFL directors who are aware of the risk and are starving for games that will make fans jump out of their seats, which will not be the last time they throw touchdowns in an NFL stadium.


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