Grier, Cajuste choose to sit out WVU bowl game
SHEPHERD — Syracuse has enough play-makers and overall quality to make West Virginia’s mission in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando difficult enough. Quarterback Eric Dungey, Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt, linebackers blitzing to their heart’s content and a points-scoring offense make it easy to see why the Orange have already won nine games.
Now with the announcements that WVU quarterback Will Grier and offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste have decided not to play in the bowl game, the Mountaineers are not the same type of team the Las Vegas bookmakers originally installed as seven-point favorites.
Grier’s replacement will be transfer Jack Allison, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound athlete who began his college days at Miami of Florida, but came to WVU when Mark Richt became the Hurricane coach.
Allison threw only 10 passes this season. His arm hasn’t been questioned, but his mobility, ability to avoid a pass rush and running skills have been.
The Mountaineers haven’t played since Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. Some players who were troubled by injuries just prior to that game against Oklahoma should be ready for the Syracuse bowl game.
Since Syracuse blitzes about as much as any team in the nation, then Cajuste’s replacement will be spotlighted and watched carefully by both coaching staffs.
Grier and Cajuste emphasized they wanted to prepare for the NFL draft in the spring of 2019.
The NFL holds its so-called combine for players expected to be drafted. Those invited to the combine do drills and give the many scouts a close look at just how athletic they are. But the conditions can’t be compared to actual game situations where split-second decisions have to be made and competitiveness and conditioning are on display.
Many of this year’s seniors will show their wares in all-star games especially created for NFL-bound players.
There are the Senior Bowl in Mobile, the East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, the Tropical Bowl in Daytona Beach and the NFLPA Bowl played at the Rose Bowl in California.
National Football League scouts and front office personnel are allowed on the practice fields prior to those all-star games. They can ask questions of the athletes the same as they can at the combine.
Allison will likely be backed by freshman Trey Lowe, giving coach Dana Holgorsen some December practice time to evaluate what he has to fight with as quarterback against his 2019 schedule.
Syracuse doesn’t have any players choosing to sit on the sidelines for the bowl game. The Orange community seems to be energized and happy to be back in a bowl atmosphere. Too many fallow years went by recently, when Syracuse was not winning nor impressing many people.
Out of its 12 games this season, Syracuse was stampeded only once, and that was a sad loss on a neutral field to unbeaten Notre Dame.
West Virginia comes in with an 8-3 record and stinging losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in its last two games.
There is a long line of seniors who will be in the WVU lineup.
All they prepared for, was a last collegiate game for the school that gave them a scholarship to get an expensive education.