It’s almost like looking into a mirror.
That’s how similar the situations are for West Virginia University and Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers’ 39-year-old head coach Neal Brown is in his first year at WVU after an ultra-successful stint at Troy University in the Group of 5’s Sun Belt Conference.
Ditto for 46-year-old Matt Wells, who is in his first year as the Red Raiders’ head coach after enjoying great success at Utah State in the Group of 5’s Mountain West Conference.
WVU is 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12. Texas Tech is 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12.
WVU lost to Iowa State 38-14 while Texas Tech was defeated by the Cyclones 34-24. The Mountaineers were drubbed by Oklahoma 52-14 while the Red Raiders were pummeled 55-16 by the Sooners. WVU was edged by Baylor 17-14 while Texas Tech took the Bears into double-overtime before losing 33-30.
Frick, meet Frack.
Why, even the quarterbacking situations will be similar when WVU hosts Texas Tech at noon Saturday in Milan Puskar Stadium.
WVU will start Austin Kendall, as usual, but Brown already has revealed Jarret Doege, 6-foot-2, 198-pound junior who is being redshirted, and Trey Lowe, 6-2, 218-pound redshirt freshman, also will play against the Red Raiders.
“We’re looking at our quarterback position like we are all our positions on offense — we have to get better,” said Brown. “I’m not necessarily going to broadcast what our plans are because that won’t do anything but help Texas Tech. But we will have some plans to use those two guys if needed.”
Cue the Red Raiders.
Although starting quarterback Jett Duffey, a 6-1, 195-pound junior, has completed 132 of 193 passes for 1,420 yards with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions, there are still murmurs about the possibility of injured former starter Alan Bowman returning to action.
WVU’s Brown actually seems to be expecting that scenario.
“The quarterback, Duffey,” said Brown, “I think he is a capable runner but he gets the ball out extremely fast. He gets the ball to the play-makers.
“I think we have to prepare for Bowman, too. It’s my understanding that he’s making some progress. I won’t be surprised if we see him.”
Bowman, a 6-3, 210-pound sophomore, burst onto the Texas Tech scene a year ago, completing 227 of 327 passes (.690) for 2,638 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
But injuries limited him to eight games last season. The same thing has happened in 2019 with Bowman playing in merely three games due to a shoulder injury. Yet he still has completed 101 of 154 passes for 1,020 yards with six TDs and three interceptions.
See why Brown is preparing for him? Similarities, similarities, similarities. Wells sees them, too.
“I think what you’ve got is two first-year head coaches trying to change cultures,” said Texas Tech’s coach. “And you’ve got two teams that are still continuing to fight hard and play hard.
“I commend Neal and his staff. You see the way they fought against Baylor. It’s a very similar position in Waco that we were in. We both came up a little short, but those guys are playing their tails off and fighting until the end of the game.”
And, of course, vice-versa.
So who will win this even-Steven matchup?
I’m picking the Mountaineers at home, 27-24.
Season record: 14-3