With as much respect as a person can possibly give to Austin Kendall for his toughness, grit and determination, it is officially time for West Virginia head coach Neal Brown to hand the quarterback reigns to Bowling Green transfer Jarrett Doege.
With just four games left after a 17-14 loss to Baylor on Halloween night, Doege can now play four consecutive games and keep his redshirt for next year when he would be a junior again.
In a season and a half for the Falcons, Doege threw for over 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns with very little talent around him. He has the most experience of any signal caller on the roster.
Fans will say and have been saying, “but he played in the MAC Conference. To which I answer, “yes, as did Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Josh Cribbs, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Fry and Julian Edelman. So talent has come through the conference at that position. Another argument to make is in 2017, the MAC had 77 total alumni on NFL rosters so it’s not like playing at a middle school level as some seem to think.
The latest evidence that it’s Doege time is the aforementioned loss to the Bears.
The Mountaineers had just 219 total yards on the night. Kendall was 20-39 for 205 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Are those numbers terrible at first glance? No. Are they eye popping? Again, no. WVU scored one offensive touchdown in the game on Kendall’s 83-yard touchdown pass to George Campbell where Campbell had to stop and come back to the pass and make an excellent play. Take away that touchdown and those 205 passing yards go to 122 yards on 19 completions. Yes, there were three or four drops, but honestly those passes wouldn’t have totaled more than 20 yards or so, so then the Mountaineers would have had about 145 yards on 24 completions.
That is not going to get it done at this level, in this conference and obviously the results are there to see that it is not getting it done. Injuries are definitely a factor also, but the offense was struggling even when primarily healthy.
Every team at some point in the season needs a spark or a shot in the arm so to speak. All of a sudden, receivers may catch everything, the running game may get going, explosive plays might happen. Doege can be that spark.
When Doege was deemed eligible to play this year, he was coming off an injury that had set him back. But all indications are he throws it well and moves his team in practice. He has experience at the FBS level.
It isn’t a disservice to Kendall. Nick Saban replaced Jalen Hurts at Alabama with Tua Tagovailoa and Hurts had led the Crimson Tide to a national title.
Coach Brown, if you want fans to stay engaged and to continue to “Trust the Climb” for the remaining four games, it’s time to ignite a fire in the offense. Make the switch. Play Jarrett Doege.
Not only do the fans deserve it, the defense (which was incredible against Baylor) does too.