Last year, Jarret Doege had an all-time bad performance in the Liberty Bowl against Army. and this year he is hoping to put that behind him and be a different player.
Despite the Mountaineers getting the 24-21 victory, Doege was benched during the game, after throwing for 159 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and losing a fumble.
“For whatever reason he didn’t see it well,” Brown said after the game on Doege’s performance. “And we had two really uncharacteristically bad turnovers.”
Almost a year later, Doege will have a chance at redeeming himself — this time in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Minnesota. The Golden Gopher defense ranks 9th in the country in scoring defense, 4th in the country in total defense, and allowed the third fewest first downs in the country this season.
Doege knows facing this Minnesota defense is challenging, but hopes to have put last year’s game in the past and be solely focused on what is in front of him.
“I think I put that one behind me a long time ago,” Doege said of his performance in last year’s bowl game. “I’m going to go into this game, prepare like I usually prepare and go in there with a great mindset — a mindset to win the football game.”
Doege added the difference between this year and last year is his preparation and trying to not think about last year but rather focus on his job for this year.
“I think I just prepare harder,” Doege said on any adjustments he is making ahead of this year’s bowl game. “Just try to make it a different outcome, prepare harder, and go into the game not thinking about last year’s game but thinking about what my job is and what I need to do to win a football game.”
Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker is not worried about the spot Doege is in. Parker has complete faith in his quarterback, and hopes Doege can take motivation from the positive performances of West Virginia’s final six games this season, rather than think back to the Army game from a year ago.
“You’ve got to learn by it, and stay motivated but you want to use things that are positive most of the time to motivate,” Parker said. “There’s things that always haunt you that motivate you, but I always equate it to basketball — it’s a whole lot easier to learn from making a shot than missing it, but there’s plenty to learn from misses too. We’d rather be able to feel good about what we’re doing and learn from those.”
While the Army game was one of those “misses” Parker was referring to, it is important to see how different this season is compared to last for Doege.
This season, Doege finished second in the Big 12 in passing yards per game and second in passing touchdowns. Last season, Doege finished second in passing yards per game, but fifth in touchdowns. Doege having turned a page is exactly what West Virginia is hoping for if they want to come away victorious in a bowl game for the second consecutive year.
While Doege has a lot to try and forget about last year’s bowl game, he also has a lot he should remember from this season. Doege finished in the top 40 nationally in passing yards per game this season and the West Virginia offense hopes winning four of the final six games to become bowl eligible will help their quarterback be in the right mindset heading into the bowl game.
Parker’s focus is to have Doege get motivated not by last season’s failure, but this season’s success.
“Understanding those past plays or past things we all have on our minds, whether it’s by staff or players. Just allow you to motivate you and grow and not let them be in the way from any growth,” Parker said.
Photo by Ethan Bock, Blue Gold Sports