Posted by Tony Caridi for MSNsportsNET.com
To call it a controversy would be leaning toward hype, so let’s just call it a question growing with popularity.
What should the Mountaineer coaching staff do with true freshmen quarterbacks Barry Brunetti and Jeremy Johnson? Do you hope and pray that Geno Smith can take every snap this season and you redshirt both? If so, you probably also still believe the buck under your pillow came from the Tooth Fairy.
How about the conventional idea of playing one and redshirting the other who emerges as the number two man? That’s a pretty safe and easy call.
However, I don’t think it’s the right call this season for the Mountaineers.
My vote is that both Brunetti and Johnson play this season and here’s why: Barry Brunetti and Jeremy Johnson are both extremely talented, however they are not the same type of quarterback. They possess certain skill sets, which in the course of a 12-game regular season could help West Virginia University win more games. And, that my friends, is the bottom line.
Forget about class balance at the quarterback position two and three years from now. Let’s think about what will give WVU the best chance to win the Big East Conference title this season.
I submit that Brunetti’s ability to throw and run, and Johnson’s Patrick White type speed and better than expected arm, gives the Mountaineers the best chance at finishing first.
Do you remember that Cincinnati went through quarterbacks last season like Lady Gaga goes through wardrobe? In the end, the Bearcats never flinched and won the conference title by using the combined talents of Tony Pike, Zach Collaros, Chazz Anderson and Brendon Kay.
It’s not a matter of if a team’s quarterback will miss snaps during the season - it’s only a matter of how many and for how long. So rather than trying to preserve a year of eligibility for one of the precocious freshman, let them jump in when the season begins and get them as many snaps as possible. Consider every snap Brunetti or Johnson takes as an investment into the future, because history shows us that the future often arrives much earlier than we expect.
Staying on the topic of expectations, the popular name on the Mountaineer defense after three weeks of practice is junior college transfer Bruce Irvin. The Californian with the long dreads is absolutely what the WVU defense has needed when it comes to a pass rush.
Irvin is the prototype rush end that the Mountaineer defense has lacked for several seasons. During a scrimmage earlier this fall he couldn’t be stopped. The question that remains, however, is whether Irvin will be limited to passing situations or whether he’ll be able to make the transition into an every down player.
Irvin did not practice this spring, which will slow his overall development. Nonetheless, he’s got a chance to be the newcomer who makes the biggest impact for the Mountaineers.