Much has and will likely continue to be said about West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege, and that’s just fine with him.
Excuse him if he doesn’t choose to hear it all.
The Mountaineers’ starting quarterback has come under fire on several occasions this season, which is to be expected in a year with mixed results for both the quarterback and his team.
But Doege has gotten used to such criticism. A former player at Bowling Green, Doege was WVU’s backup QB to then-starter Austin Kendall just a couple of seasons ago, when he suddenly became the champion of the Mountaineer fan base.
Now, that role has flipped, with backup Garrett Greene earning snaps and cheers from the WVU faithful.
Doege, clearly cut from the head-down, work-hard cloth, has never been one to let emotions bleed over into words. But on Tuesday, he was asked about the outside criticism.
To his credit, he tackled the topic as he has most everything since he’s been on campus — straight on.
“I would say at Bowling Green, you really don’t have that kind of noise because it’s such a small school,” Doege said. “It’s a little different when you get here when you lose. You’re held to a very high standard at quarterback here, and I know that standard and I want to hold myself to that standard, but you just have to tune it out, stay off social media a little bit and just go back to work.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. We know what goes on in this building. I know how much hard work I put into this game, so I’m just going to go back to work and keep playing.”
It’s the same mentality that has carried Doege this far from a high school player out of Lubbock, Texas with few college options, and none of the Power Five variety.
It’s also the same mentality he displayed on Saturday at halftime after the Mountaineers had turned in likely their most dreadful offensive half of football in recent memory, resulting in a 17-0 hole to Texas Tech.
In the locker room that day, it was Doege who got up and spoke in front of his teammates, and it was also Doege who spearheaded a second-half rally that came up just short in a 23-20 loss to the Red Raiders. He completed 25 of 33 passes for 318 yards, with 276 of that coming after the break.
“I said a few words at halftime just to try and get our guys going,” Doege said. “I knew what we had to do when we came out and that was at least tie the game or get it close, and really, I just wanted to have a response when we came out and not continue what we were doing in the first half.”
It hasn’t been the year Doege and the Mountaineers imagined to this point, with WVU entering a critical Big 12 battle at Baylor at noon Saturday with a 2-3 overall record and an 0-2 mark in the conference.
As the leader of an offense that has largely sputtered, ranking in the bottom half of FBS statistically in most major categories, much of the heat that has come along with that start has been pointed at Doege.
Aside from the criticism, the year has come with other difficulties as well. Greene has steadily become more and more a part of the Mountaineers’ offensive game plan, leading to plays, sequences and sometimes full drives with Doege relegated to the bench.
On Tuesday, Doege largely dismissed any extra adversity that comes with operating in a two-quarterback system.
“I try to control what I can control, and when I’m on the sideline it gives me a different view of the defense,” Doege said.
“I’m just waiting on them to call my name to go back out. I’d love to have the ball in my hands every single play, but just try to control what I can control, and when they call my name, go back out there and do my job.”
On Saturday against Texas Tech, with the game on the line, it was Doege’s show as Greene did not play in the second half. And as good as Doege was, it was the throw he missed that likely loomed largest.
It came on third-and-4 play from the Red Raider 6-yard line with less than five minutes left in a 20-17 game.
The Mountaineers had an opportunity to take the lead, and as Doege went through his progressions, running back Leddie Brown broke open in the back of the end zone. However, Doege found him late and the throw sailed just wide, resulting in a tying field goal. Those three points ultimately wouldn’t be enough.
“I thought I played pretty well the whole game and just missed the opportunity to win the game,” Doege said. “At quarterback, there’s such a small margin of error. You’ve got to make the play when it counts.”
And that’s where Doege and the offense are focusing this week. As for how they get there, Doege knows but one way — straight ahead and through the grind.
“Practicing better,” Doege said. “Going back to work. That’s the only way to get better, to get more consistent is to practice better and go back to work and prepare better.”