Meet the Mountaineers is a series previewing every position on West Virginia’s football team for 2020. Every day we will focus on a different position group and look at all the players we will see there in 2020. We started looking at the Mountaineer offense yesterday by talking about WVU’s offensive coaching staff. Tomorrow We will stay in the backfield and examine West Virginia’s running backs for 2020.
Entering the 2019 season, one of the biggest question marks for the Mountaineers was who would succeed Will Grier at quarterback. Now entering the 2020 season, nearly the exact same question still exists.
Last offseason’s quarterback battle was filled with unknowns. Grier’s backup, Jack Allison, was competing against Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall, who had only started one game with the Sooners, and Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege, who was coming off of offseason surgery had not played against power five competition.
Kendall won out in the end and started each of WVU’s first nine games last season. With an unproductive running game and an inexperienced receiving corps, however, Kendal struggled to make the WVU offense productive. In eight full games (Kendall left the Iowa State game after one drive due to injury) Kendall passed for 1,989 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Allison played the majority of the game against the Cyclones following Kendall’s injury and threw for 144 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
After recovering from surgery, Doege was available to play midway through the season, but Neal Brown and the coaching staff decided to preserve Doege’s redshirt status and only play him in the team’s last four games, starting the final three. On the season Doege passed for 818 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He also led the Mountaineers to victories in two of his three starts at the end of the season.
Overall, no matter who was under center, West Virginia was forced to lean on its passing game far too much in 2019 for the experience and talent that the team had at quarterback and wide receiver.
With Allison transferring out of the program, Brown has said that the 2020 starting quarterback job is going to be a good old-fashioned battle between Kendall and Doege this offseason. Even without a full Spring practice schedule due to coronavirus, Brown said on a call with reporters two weeks ago that he was pleased with where the two are at.
“I’ve been extremely pleased with our quarterbacks during this pandemic and this period of virtual learning,” Brown said. “I think both of them have done an exceptional job from a leadership standpoint.”
Brown specifically mentioned the job both had done with the virtual learning, improving at reading coverages and identifying defenses.
“They’ll be ready to go. Whenever we start, those two will be ready to go,” Brown continued. “They’re going to compete and more power to whoever wins. But I think we’ve got two guys that I’ve been extremely pleased with and are more than capable of leading our football team.”
Also in WVU’s quarterback room in 2020 will be returning sophomore Trent Jackson and newcomers Garrett Greene and Matt Cavallaro.
Jack Allison – Transfer, West Liberty
Trey Lowe III – Transfer
Returning Players (2019 Stats):
R-Sr. Austin Kendall (1,989 yards, 12 TD, 10 INT)
R-Jr. Jarret Doege (818 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT)
R-So. Trent Jackson
Fr. Garrett Greene
So. Matt Cavallaro (Lackawanna College)
Whichever one of Kendall or Doege wins the starting job this Summer, the other will serve as the team’s primary backup. Jackson will likely be the team’s third-string option as both Greene and Cavallaro could reasonably be expected to sit out and redshirt in 2020.
R-Jr. Jarret Doege
After a strong showing at the end of the year, Doege would appear to have the edge on Kendall at the moment. Without a Spring game or spring practices, however, it is hard to guess how much each has progressed since the end of the year. What we do know is that Doege was much more effective and productive in his playing time in 2019 than Kendall was.