In a heavily anticipated non-conference battle in Charlotte, North Carolina, West Virginia strong-armed Tennessee in the trenches, en route to a 40-14 victory. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
7 Will Grier (6’2, 223) West Virginia QB-Senior
Will Grier, West Virginia’s Heisman candidate, didn’t disappoint. The senior completed 25-of-34 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns. Grier (6’2, 223) showed a natural feel in the pocket and looked like a quarterback who knew what he wanted to do snap-to-snap. His patience shined throughout the game. Perhaps his best throw of the afternoon came on a fade to senior wide receiver Gary Jennings Jr. (6’2, 215), pictured left, where he placed the ball perfectly to the receiver’s outside shoulder for a touchdown. The senior enjoyed strong pass protection and only helped himself by being able to avoid the rush with his quick feet. However, Grier would be better served at the next level if he’s able to develop the ability “to climb” in the pocket rather than shuffle from side-to-side, like he did on too many occasions against the Volunteers. All things considered, he put together a performance worthy of a player who many pundits believe will be one of the better quarterbacks in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.
18 David Sills V (6’4, 210) West Virginia WR-Senior
All good quarterbacks need a receiver who can make plays. For Grier, that receiver is Sills V. Sills V used his size “to box out corners”, making it hard for the Volunteers secondary to work against him. The senior wide receiver also showed he can run the complete route tree and bend his knees/ upper body to get in-and-out of his breaks. The former Mountaineers signal-caller finished the afternoon with seven catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
9 Tim Jordan (5’11, 230) Tennessee RB-Sophomore
Jordan was one of the lone bright spots for the Volunteers, who looked inept on offense. Jordan, only a sophomore, was able to use outside carries off tackle to rack up 118 rushing yards on 20 carries. He broke a run outside to score a touchdown in the third quarter. Jordan had a good game but the Tennessee offensive line will have to improve in both the pass and run blocking departments to compete in the SEC.
West Virginia’s defense was aggressive from the jump. Senior defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow (6’4 307), a former USC Trojan, started off the game with a quick rip move to derail a run up the middle on the first play of the contest. On the next drive, Bigelow once again beat a Volunteers interior lineman off the snap to record a tackle for loss. He finished the contest with two tackles for loss and one forced fumble. The Mountaineers defense went about 20 players deep and used various defensive packages to stifle the Volunteers, especially on third downs. On the outside, West Virginia used a lot of man coverage and did it quite effectively. The Mountaineers allowed Tennessee to convert on just 35-percent of its third down attempts (5-of-14), while allowing a paltry 301 yards of total offense (172 passing yards, 129 rushing yards).