Redshirt junior quarterback Will Grier has been living up to the hype, but it’s his backup that has been raising some eyebrows.
Through the past two games, redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Chugunov has seen valuable playing time in West Virginia’s lopsided victories. The New Jersey native has completed 10 of his 16 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in his last two appearances combined.
Those numbers could even be better had some of his passes not been dropped.
“I like what he’s done the last two games that he’s been in there,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I thought he went in there and did good.”
Saturday’s 59-16 win over Delaware State saw West Virginia’s offense take a different approach once Chugunov and the rest of the unit’s backups entered the game.
After operating on more conservative play calling against East Carolina, Chugunov and the offense were given the opportunity to show some aggression against Delaware State, leading to Chugunov’s first career touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Reggie Roberson.
“We tried to let him play ball the way that we play ball for a series or two as opposed to reeling him in and trying to run clock,” Holgorsen said. “It was good to see him move it down the field and score.”
Chugunov has already surpassed his total passing yards from last season in his two appearances this season. He appeared in three games last season and completed two of his five passes for 15 yards.
With two seasons in the gold and blue under his belt, Chugunov brings stability to the quarterback position and has proven his capability to produce when his number is called upon.
“There's a point where I'm pretty comfortable putting (Chugunov) in the game, operating the system, him knowing what to do and him being on the same page as me,” West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said.
The playing time that Chugunov has received so far may prove to be beneficial down the road in case of injury or if Grier decides to enter the NFL following this season.
“That’s valuable experience for him moving forward,” Holgorsen said. “It’s college football. You get to number two at some point.”
If Grier leaves, then Chugunov will enter the spring as the top candidate to win the starting job over sophomore David Isreal and Miami transfer Jack Allison, based off of game experience and time spent in the program.
For now, Chugunov will serve as a capable backup to Grier and the standard for West Virginia’s struggling backups to work and live up to.
“We need those guys to be capable of being able to go in and hold things together and go in and make plays,” Holgorsen said. “I think he’s capable of doing that at this point right now.”