MORGANTOWN — There’s absolutely nothing football fans love more than a quarterback controversy. It’s in their DNA.
That has been particularly the case here ever since West Virginia University benched starting quarterback Jarret Doege in the Mountaineers’ tough 24-21 win over Army in the Liberty Bowl.
When second-team quarterback Austin Kendall had to bail out WVU in the second half, lots of Mountaineer fans jumped off the Doege bandwagon.
That’s when redshirt freshman quarterback Garrett Greene suddenly became the new fan darling. They loved his ramblin’, scramblin’, gamblin’ style of quarterbacking.
It’s also why so many fans were more interested in WVU’s spring practice than usual. They wanted to see what their fair-haired young quarterback could do.
That leads us to the 2021 Gold-Blue game here Saturday afternoon in Milan Puskar Stadium at Mountaineer Field. Most of the crowd of 8,312 showed up just to see what “The Kid” could do.
And Greene didn’t disappoint.
The 5-foot-11, 191-pound quarterback completed 8 of 16 passes for 103 yards with zero touchdowns, rushed for 8 yards net on five carries, tossed one interception (in the end zone), was sacked once and had a 91.6 quarterback rating.
Greene’s marquee play came on his Blue offense’s first possession, as he completed a 51-yard bomb to true freshman Kaden Prather.
On the negative side of the ledger, besides the interception he tossed to Darryl Porter Jr., Greene also hit Naim Muhammad in the hands but the cornerback dropped the pick. Greene also threw four consecutive incompletions at one point.
Did he play poorly?
Not at all.
But Greene also didn’t play better than Doege, the incumbent.
The 6-2, 210-pound redshirt senior completed 10 of 14 passes for 79 yards with no touchdowns, ran for a 1-yard touchdown and had a quarterback rating of 118.8.
What those statistics don’t show is that Doege moved around much better in the pocket, which was, perhaps, his biggest goal during spring drills. Besides the TD run, Doege gained 8 yards on a keeper on his Gold team’s first possession.
So how did WVU head coach Neal Brown assess the two quarterbacks?
“I thought Jarret was really solid,” said the third-year coach. “I was excited that he pulled the ball on the zone-read down at the goal line and he scored. That’s something that has been a point of emphasis.
“Not that he’s ever going to be a guy that we call run plays for, but he’s got to be able to pull the ball when the defense gives you a full read. And he’s got to continue to improve in the pocket.”
During the actual scrimmaging the score was 16-16 with a lot more passing than rushing. There was a reason for that, besides the quarterback competition.
“I wanted to play everybody,” said Brown. “And when you play in a ‘thud’ atmosphere, it really makes it hard to run the football. That’s why we didn’t run it as much with that group [Gold team].
“But I thought [Doege] was solid. He threw a couple of nice deep balls. In the one-on-one period, the ball he threw to [Isaiah Esdale] was a perfect pass. That is something we really focused on this spring was the ability to be better on deep balls. I feel much better about that after 15 practices.”
“Garrett was anxious at the start,” said Brown. “That’s kind of the way he has been in all these scrimmage-type things. He has been real anxious. Then he settled down and threw a great ball to Prather.”
The bottom line?
Doege hasn’t done anything to lose the starting job and Greene hasn’t done enough to win it.
There is no quarterback controversy at WVU.