Sunday, August 18, 2019

WVU’s quarterback race still up for grabs

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia has five quarterbacks taking reps and competing for the starting quarterback job this fall.

With that comes a roller coaster ride that has been the Mountaineers’ quarterback battle.

“Some high and some lows,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said.

During the spring, the quarterbacks were all a little shaky and no one was able to emerge as the frontrunner for the starting position. But summer benefited the position greatly. 

“I think they’ve come a long way, I really do,” quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan said. “We know what to do now, where in the spring we were still learning what to do. So we know what to do. Now we got to learn how to do what we do. That’s where we got to get better at is fundamentally, execution, eye discipline, just all the fundamentals but they are getting better.”

All five young men have their strengths and weakness.

Jarret Doege is the Bowling Green transfer that is still waiting to hear whether he is eligible this season or has to sit out the year. He is the most experienced quarterback.

With the Falcons, the junior started 17 consecutive games and racked up 4,042 yards and 39 touchdown tosses in his two seasons.

Since arriving in Morgantown the 6-foot-2, 198-pound junior has worked on improving both his game and his body.

“Doege brings confidence to the room,” Reagan said. “He’s a confident quarterback. He started for a little over a year so he’s got a lot of starts underneath him, came from a similar offense, comfortable. As long as he can continue to improve the bad habits that he brought and he’s done a really good job of that. If he can improve on that then he’s going to be a really good player when he leaves here.”

Then there is Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall, who joined the team this winter.

In the open sessions of practice for the media, Kendall has taken the majority of the reps with the first team. 

While the 6-foot-2, 221-pound redshirt junior doesn’t have the starting experience Doege has, Kendall has served as a backup to two Heisman winners in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. 

Despite struggling in the spring, he is starting to pick up the offense.

“I think comfort level is starting to pick up a little bit,” Reagan said. “Just knowing what to do makes you more comfortable out there and he’s more comfortable as a leader too. He’s good around the guys. I think they follow him well. We got to stay focused each and every play. That’s where we’re struggling with everybody at quarterback right now.”

Jack Allison backed up Will Grier last season and started in the Mountaineers’ loss to Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl last December.

Jack Allison (11) walks to the practice field before practice during WVU’s fall camp.
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

Like Kendall, Allison struggled in the spring, especially in the pocket. However, that is something the 6-foot-6, 210-pound redshirt junior has tried to correct over the summer.

“He was drifting a lot in the pocket in the spring,” Reagan said. “He’s gotten better at that. I think it comes up every once in awhile. He’s got major arm talent but he’s got to stay disciplined with his eye. What we talk about from day to day is being consistent and not having ups and downs as much.”

Trent Jackson is a walk-on from Steubenville, Ohio and has been taking reps with both the first and second team offenses.

Trent Jackson (3) participates in drill during WVU’s fall camp.
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

Finally, there is redshirt freshman Trey Lowe. Last season he saw action on just seven plays against Syracuse but completed two passes.

Lowe is a dual threat quarterback and has really grown as a quarterback since spring. However, he still lacks in the confidence department.

“Trey has come a long way,” Reagan said. “Trey is a really, really good football player. What Trey has to do, Trey has to be more confident in himself because he can do it. He can do it. He can execute the offense. He just has to believe in himself.”

Trey Lowe (10) participates in drill during WVU’s fall camp.
(Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS)

With fall camp winding down, the quarterback race is heating up and WVU will need to find someone to replace Will Grier. It’s just a matter of who that will be. 

Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS

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