West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown knows how he’s going to handle his quarterback situation when the Mountaineers visit Kansas State on Saturday. He just isn’t letting anyone outside the program know just yet.
Rather than telegraph the move to the Wildcats prior to the 3:30 p.m. tilt in Manhattan, Kansas (ESPN), Brown is keeping things close to the vest.
“We’ve got a plan,” he said to reporters during Tuesday’s press conference. “I don’t think it does me any good to share it with y’all or Kansas State, but we do have a plan and we’ll start it [Tuesday] and go.”
Austin Kendall, as he has all season, started last Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. As the Red Raiders pulled away early, Brown replaced Kendall late in the third quarter with Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege, who played the rest of the game and finished with 119 yards and a touchdown on 11-for-17 passing. Kendall threw for 355 yards on 26-of-43 passing, but threw no touchdowns and two interceptions.
It was WVU’s most prolific passing day of the season with 498 yards, but it didn’t lead to a victory. Brown pointed out that WVU’s signal-callers weren’t the main culprit in that issue. The Mountaineers (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) have been plagued by dropped passes and an anemic run game.
“I said this after the game, and I really wasn’t trying to be a smart aleck, but we’ve got issues on offense,” Brown said. “Our quarterback play hasn’t been tremendous, but it hasn’t been the reason we’ve struggled, either. In the areas we’ve got to get fixed, that’s not No. 1 on the list.”
Actually, Brown said, the quarterbacks and receivers had their best day of the season once Brown went back and looked at the film.
“We really played well in the open field,” he said. “We struggled in the red zone, which was the difference in the game, but I thought it was the best performance by our quarterbacks and receivers. … We had some drops, but that group played well Saturday outside the drops.”
BACKS SHOWING SIGNS OF LIFE
As poorly as WVU’s running game has performed this year — the Mountaineers are 128th out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams with 75.78 yards per game — and after gaining just 51 yards against the Red Raiders, Brown said he still did see some bright spots out of his running backs against Texas Tech.
“I thought our running backs played better,” he said. “They made some plays and created holes that weren’t there and I thought they did a nice job outside of two plays in pass protection.”
ON THE MEND
Brown did offer some good news on the injury front. Linebacker Josh Chandler should be ready for Saturday’s game.
“He practiced a little bit last week and we didn’t feel he was ready to go into the game,” Brown said. “But he will play this week, barring any setbacks.”
The Mountaineers could use him. He’s third on the team with 49 total tackles, including two for a loss.
Receiver Sean Ryan was cleared to practice this week and a decision on his status for the game will be made later this week. Starting kicker Evan Staley will kick some this week and coaches will determine whether he’ll play later in the week. Dreshun Miller won’t be available again this week and receiver T.J. Simmons is questionable, though he did start jogging.