MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Nicco Marchiol was the most highly-anticipated member of WVU’s 2022 recruiting class. Fans have been waiting to get a glimpse of what the top quarterback in the state of Arizona could do since he first announced his commitment.
They didn’t have to wait too long to get a sneak peek as Marchiol made his first appearance against Towson. He completed two of his four passing attempts for 32 yards and one touchdown.
In the regular season finale, Marchiol got his opportunity to fully show his skill set. It was predetermined that the true freshman would come into the game on at least WVU’s third drive, but when starter Garrett Greene sustained an injury at the start of the third quarter, Marchiol finished the game as the signal caller.
“He came in and managed the game,” head coach Neal Brown said. “We are playing in the pouring rain, on national TV, on the road in his first extensive action and he showed up.”
The Hamilton High product said Marchiol’s reaction to Greene’s injury was simple: get the job done.
“Something Coach Brown preached to us all week was everyone always remembers how you finish. It’s always been a mentality that I’ve kept. I had flashbacks to that high school moment where it doesn’t really matter what the conditions are, who is around, who you are playing, as long as you get the job done,” Marchiol said. “Be a great teammate and leader, have guys rally around and it will work out. I knew my guys were believing in me.”
Brown said it has been a work in progress all season to prepare Marchiol. He was getting 60-70 live reps per week in WVU’s developmental program.
That work really ramped up over the past few weeks as the coaching staff developed a package of all the plays they were confident Marchiol could execute and repped them continuously over that period.
The QB said there are a few in particular that he got “really comfortable” with.
“I’m a big fan of the designed quarterback runs,” Marchiol said. “Anytime I’m able to be in the pocket and deliver the ball down the field is one of my strong suits, too. I’m just really a fan of this offense so whatever I can do to help the team.”
Marchiol credited Mike Joseph and the strength staff for getting his body ready to be able to take hits as a mobile quarterback. With that increased strength, he has seen improvement in his change of direction and speed when it comes to running the ball.
“He can run,” Brown said. “Garrett is really fast and probably more elusive but Nicco can run and he runs well. He’s strong. He’s got a really strong lower body and you saw that. He was really close to breaking two. He has that dimension. He’s really good on RPOs and he can run the football.”
Another play that Marchiol tabbed as one of his favorites was the pass to Bryce Ford-Wheaton late in the third quarter. It was 3rd and nine for WVU. Marchiol and Ford-Wheaton connected for a 14-yard pickup to earn a new set of downs.
“That’s one I’ve repped a lot. When you are throwing to a big target like that, a veteran, it’s hard to miss him. He made a great catch that kept us alive,” Marchiol said. “That’s the thing I like about this offense. It’s very simple progressions. It makes my job easy.”
Brown said that play was a just glimpse of Marchiol’s talent.
“He knew he was getting pressure. He knew he was getting a gap. He took his drop, stepped up and delivered the football,” Brown said. “I’m glad our fan base got to see that.”
Brown finished that statement by saying he knows of “people to be questioning” why Marchiol didn’t see game action earlier. He said it was the same reason Greene didn’t take over until late year — he wasn’t ready.
“If you play guys before they are ready at that position and things don’t go well, you may never get them back as far as a confidence standpoint. He went out there in the second half fully confident. Not only in his ability but how to run the team,” Brown said. “In this weather, he didn’t make any mistakes that affected our ability to win the game. I’m not sure that would have been the case earlier in the year. Proud of him. He’s been patient and a great teammate all year. The future is bright for him.”
Marchiol agreed with his head coach.
“I think the more the season went on and the more weeks I could process the game from the sideline – see how the speed of the game goes, situations, 2nd and 3rd downs. Just seeing how the quarterbacks ahead of me handled those, the good and the bad, all helped me for this moment,” Marchiol said. “I think it was beneficial for me to kind of sit back and spectate for a little bit but I’m just happy I could get my chance.”
He said the biggest benefit to waiting for his moment was he able to focus on fully understanding football from a schematic standpoint. Marchiol said now, he’s able to read defenses and identify why they do what they do. That progress opened up the game for him and improved his decision-making.
The icing on the cake was the fact Marchiol’s family was in attendance at Boone Pickens Stadium to watch his hard work come to fruition and lead to his first victory as a Mountaineer quarterback.