2019 Position Preview: Quarterbacks
Fall camp is less than a week away and the most heated position battle will certainly be at the quarterback position. Star quarterback Will Grier is off to the NFL after two stellar years in the old gold and blue. How do you replace him? Can they replace him? We have all those answers for you!
To break it down, let”s look at who is in the race.
r-Jr Jack Allison (6’6″ 210 lbs)
The former Miami (FL) transfer Jack Allison will look to improve on his performances from last season serving as a backup to Will Grier. Allison has the most experience of all the quarterbacks, which gives him a slight advantage, but he has plenty of work to do.
In five appearances in 2018 he completed 23 of 45 passes for 352 yards including one touchdown and two interceptions. Much of that came from his start in the Camping World Bowl vs Syracuse in which he completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards and an interception. Grier decided to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft and by doing so, it gave Allison an opportunity to gain some game experience.
In the spring game back in April, Allison went 11/24 for 112 yards and a touchdown to Randy Fields. He looked rocky early on, but settled in as the game moved along. The biggest thing with Allison is his decision making. There are times where he will try to force a ball in a covered area and he likes to take his chances instead of checking down to his targets underneath or his tailbacks.
His size is a major plus, it gives him the ability to see over the line of scrimmage and scan defenders and make reads. If Allison improves his decision making and vision of the field, he has a great chance to win the job. He doesn’t have a rocket for an arm, but he can make most passes and has really good touch.
r-Jr Austin Kendall (6’2″ 218 lbs)
The presumed favorite is Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall. Head coach Neal Brown recruited Austin’s brother, Ryan, to Kentucky when he was there as an assistant. The former Sooner quarterback sat behind two Heisman winners at Oklahoma (Baker Mayfield & Kyler Murray) so being able to learn and compete with those guys over the last two to three years has been beneficial.
Kendall made appearances in four games last year mostly in mop up duty and had really solid outings. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. He has a career 71.6% completion percentage and has yet to throw a pick through his first 39 career pass attempts. What separates him from the rest of the competition is the combination of his athleticism and arm strength.
In his Mountaineer debut at the spring game, he finished with 109 yards on 5/8 passing and a 60 yard touchdown pass to T.J. Simmons. Head coach Neal Brown liked what he saw from him, but also wants to see more. “Kendall did some really good things throwing the ball down the field. He’s got to get the ball out of his hand faster. I think that’s the biggest thing for him. It’s been a long time since he played.”
Although he had a pretty impressive outing back in the spring, we still don’t quite know his full capabilities. He has been dealing with plantar fasciitis which is an injury that really never goes away and can be quite painful. Not only does he have that to deal with, but he has had some issues with his knee as well which could be problematic. If healthy, Kendall can not only win this job but he could put up some gaudy numbers in Neal Brown’s offense.
Wildcards: r-Fr Trey Lowe III (6’2″ 220 lbs)
The dark horse candidate is clearly the young buck, Trey Lowe III. Lowe took a redshirt year in 2018 even though he did appear in the teams bowl game vs Syracuse. He was used seldomly in the game, but did get his feet wet completing both of his two pass attempts and had a rush for nine yards.
Lowe is by far the most athletic of the candidates, but does lack a strong arm. His arm has improved since he landed on campus but is not quite “Big 12 ready”. He may be behind the eight ball since Kendall and Allison have more game experience although I wouldn’t completely rule him out. If he shows that he has some zip on the ball in the spring and has a “live arm” he could potentially sneak his way into the backup role.
Jr. Jarret Doege (6’2″ 198 lbs)
Let’s not forget about Bowling Green transfer, Jarret Doege. At the moment, Doege’s eligibility is still up in the air as the team is waiting to hear back from the NCAA on the waiver that would clear him to play this fall.
During his two years as the Falcons, he threw for 4,041 yards and 39 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 62.7%. If Doege is granted immediate eligbility, he will certainly be thrown into the mix as an outside contender.
Projected Starter: Austin Kendall
Neal Brown didn’t go out and snag this guy from conference rival Oklahoma for no reason and Kendall likely would not have transferred to West Virginia if he didn’t believe he had a good shot at winning the job. Sitting behind two Heisman winners and one of them he supposedly was neck and neck for the starting job with, is saying something.
Again this is provided that he stays healthy. If he does, then that changes the entire outlook on what the Mountaineers can achieve in 2019. He will have a stable of backs and a young core of receivers that he will have to develop chemistry with. Don’t expect things to be rolling along smoothly in week one, maybe more so by week one of conference play.