MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Mountaineers quarterback coach Michael Burchett, technically titled an Offensive Graduate Assistant, has helped develop both Skyler Howard and William Crest into versatile, athletic signal callers.
This afternoon, Burchett spoke to media members about the Mountaineers offensive performance so far as well as their preparation for a tough Power-5 opponent coming up this weekend.
“We saw an improvement from week one to week two,” Burchett said regarding starting quarterback Skyler Howard. “I thought week one it took him a few drives to get settled in. He enjoys getting out there and getting hit and playing ball and allow that to kind of settle him down.”
In those first two weeks, Howard completed 37-of-51 passes for 622 yards and five touchdowns, placing him first in the nation in pass efficiency, second in yards per attempt, and third in yards per completion. He also found positives with his feet, rushing 21 times for over 100 yards.
After the Mountaineers win over the Liberty Flames, Howard said timing was one of his main concerns. According to Burchett, timing is everything for an offense with so much depth at wide receiver.
“Working on timing, that’s just the way our practice is built,” said Burchett. “That’s the way our offense is built. With those new wideouts, it’s very important to have that timing.”
Per NCAA.com, the Mountaineers have scored on 7-of-13 redzone attempts, with only two of those coming from the passing game.
West Virginia’s next opponent, the Maryland Terrapins, has a stealthy secondary led by safeties Will Likely and Sean Davis. While this could be Howard’s biggest challenge yet, Burchett believes he’s prepared to throw against any type of defensive road block.
“Yeah, we got a plan for everything,” he said. “We expect them to come out and challenge us. They feel like they have the two best corners that we’ve seen and they probably do. They do a really good job. (Sean) Davis is really long out there and (Will) Likely, he’s got a knack for playing football. He’s really instinctive but we’ve got a plan.”
As for backup quarterback William Crest, Burchett briefly compared the redshirt freshman to former WVU-great Geno Smith, deeming Crest the more athletic of the two. He also stated that it’s a huge advantage having two capable quarterbacks like Howard and Crest on your side.
“I think it’s an advantage if you’ve got two good quarterbacks and that’s what we feel like we have right now,” he said. “It’s funny because even Chugs (Chris Chugunov), they all bring something unique to the table and our offense changes with which one is playing and I definitely think that gives you an advantage.”
This season, Crest is 6-for-7 with 50 passing yards. He’s also rushed nine times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
Following a long bye week, West Virginia will host the Maryland Terrapins this Saturday, September 26 at Milan Puskar Stadium with kickoff set for 3 p.m.