After weeks of competition, West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown finally made the call in the battle to be his starting quarterback.
Brown announced during his weekly radio show Thursday that junior Jarret Doege would start under center when the Mountaineers open their 2020 season Sept. 12 versus Eastern Kentucky (noon, FS1). Doege emerged as the winner of a two-man race between him and Austin Kendall, the Oklahoma transfer who started the first nine games of 2019.
“We had a long quarterback battle and we really feel like we have two quarterbacks on our roster that can win Big 12 games right now, which I think is a huge positive,” Brown said. “We hoped the competition was going to go through the spring and we would be able to name a starter a little earlier but it didn’t work out that way.”
Doege, a transfer from Bowling Green, started the final three contests for the Mountaineers last season, leading WVU to Big 12 road victories at then-No. 24 Kansas State and at TCU, which was fighting for bowl eligibility in that game. Those were sandwiched around a 20-13 home loss to No. 22 Oklahoma State.
In four appearances, Doege hit on 79 of 120 passes for 818 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He threw for 4,041 yards and 39 scores in two seasons at Bowling Green.
Kendall threw for 1,989 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 picks on 187-of-304 passing as the Mountaineers limped out to a 3-6 record with him as the starter. Brown did laud Kendall for the strides he has made during the offseason.
“Austin Kendall is much improved and this was a true battle right down to the last scrimmage,” Brown said.
Brown added that one of the reasons the quarterback competition lasted so long is that the team lost most of its spring practice opportunities to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Brown had a preference before Thursday, he kept it close to his vest. When asked about his quarterbacks, he often would say that both did some very good things and both had some room for improvement during their times under center this preseason.
In the end, the quarterback who finished last season as WVU’s starter will be the same one who begins this season in that role.
“We went three weeks into camp, had two true scrimmages and one kind of partial scrimmage, and after that Jarret Doege will be our starter heading into the Eastern Kentucky game,” Brown said. “He won the job.”