MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown is not convinced starting quarterback Austin Kendall will be out this week when the Mountaineers visit No. 5 Oklahoma.
On Tuesday, Brown said WVU is still evaluating Kendall, but added that if the the former Sooner is not at 100 percent then someone else would be playing quarterback for West Virginia on Saturday (noon on FOX).
Who that player is was left to the imagination. Redshirt junior Jack Allison has been listed as the backup all season. When Kendall was forced out of last week’s game during the first series after a hit that left him with a chest injury, Allison played the majority of the game as Iowa State went on to beat WVU 38-14.
Now, if Kendall is out again this week, the decision appears to boil down to Allison or redshirt freshman Trey Lowe. Lowe appeared in the Iowa State game late in the fourth quarter but did not throw a pass. Both played in last season’s bowl loss with Will Grier electing to sit out.
Whoever it ends up being, Brown is playing this one close to the vest.
“We felt Jack gave us the best chance a week ago,” Brown said. “We have a plan with the quarterback position if Austin can’t go. It’s not something I want to sit up here and talk about. If Austin can’t go, we’ll go through with that plan. Trey is getting better. But we thought Jack gave us the best opportunity on Saturday.”
Brown said he and the staff would get another look at Kendall on Wednesday afternoon and if the North Carolina native isn’t going to play, he would not hide it. In the meantime, the rest of the offense is operating as if they’ll be breaking in a new starter at quarterback in front of more then 80,000 fans as Oklahoma celebrates homecoming on Saturday.
“I’ve talked to Jack and Trey Lowe,” Senior left tackle Colton McKivitz said. “We don’t know who it’s going to be yet. We’re just making sure their cadences are kind of similar and what we’re going to be getting out of them. We’re communicating with them on calls and relaying it and making sure they’re loud enough, because it is going to be a loud environment. We’re making sure they know they’ll need to over-communicate along with the offensive line.”
In addition to help from linemen, receivers are taking steps to make sure whoever plays quarterback for West Virginia this weekend has the best chance possible for success.
“Whoever the starting quarterback is, he hasn’t had a lot of game time,” redshirt freshman Sam James said. “He’s going to be a little shaken going in, he’s not going to be very confident. We have to make sure he’s confident with his passes and all that.”
Add bandit linebacker VanDaris Cowan to the list of players West Virginia has lost to injury this season.
Cowan, who transferred to WVU from Alabama before sitting out the 2018 season and the first four games of the 2019 season, injured his knee in Saturday’s loss to Iowa State. On Tuesday, Brown announced Cowan is scheduled for surgery next week and will miss the remainder of the season.
Since the start of the season, West Virginia has lost Cowan, starting offensive guard Josh Sills and defensive end Taijh Alston to season-ending injuries. Receiver Sean Ryan left the Texas game with an injury and did not play against Iowa State, though Brown has said the door remains open for Ryan’s possible return later in the season.
Senior cornerback Keith Washington was also injured late against Texas and missed last week’s loss at home to the Cyclones. His status for Saturday at Oklahoma is still up in the air.
BYE, BYE BUSH
Brown also announced Tuesday that receiver Tevin Bush has entered the transfer portal.
Bush, who has played sparingly since a season-opening win against James Madison, has been dealing with foot injuries this season and, according to Brown, wants to be closer to his hometown of New Orleans.
“Tevin and I met earlier today,” Brown said. “He’s a good kid. He’s had a rough few months, dealing with some lingering foot and heel issues. He’s not available to play. We met today, and he made the decision that he’s going to enter the transfer portal at this time. I support that decision. It preserves his redshirt year. He wants to go closer to home. I support him, and we’ll help him achieve that goal.”