Future Aside, Austin Kendall is Neal Brown’s Quarterback For 2019
West Virginia quarterback Austin Kendall has fallen under some scrutiny throughout his first season in gold and blue. As can be expected when replacing a quarterback the caliber of Will Grier, fan criticism is going to come and it has come in waves for the Oklahoma transfer this year. However, head coach Neal Brown is committed to Kendall as the team’s starter going forward and his comments to the media yesterday reflect that sentiment.
“Austin Kendall’s our starter. I thought he played well in the first half on Saturday. The second half, he did not perform as well as he needed to,” Brown said about his junior signal caller, “He understands that. First half, I thought he handled the noise around the game pretty well. It’s a unique situation. He has to go back and play his home team in their stadium.”
If that statement doesn’t tell you that Neal Brown is sold on Austin Kendall for the remainder of this season, then nothing will. Calls have come from fans and certain media outlets to turn the team over to Trey Lowe or Jarret Doege to finish out the Big 12 schedule. Many have seen comparisons between Lowe’s situation and that of Pat White as a dual-threat redshirt freshman who is bound to come on and outplay a more experienced starter. That same group forgets that Pat White threw for 100 yards in just two games during that breakout season. It was White’s ability to run the ball in Rich Rodriguez’s spread option attack that gave him the playing time he needed. While Trey Lowe certainly brings an extra punch to the run game, he does not have that game breaking 4.5 speed that White brought to the table and his ability as a passer is entirely unproven as opposed to Kendall.
As for Jarret Doege, the Bowling Green transfer is getting nearly as much hype that Will Grier got coming out of Florida. Doege has never been surrounded by the types of weapons he will have at WVU but still, the brakes need pumped a bit. In two years with the Falcons, Doege was a part of five wins. What Jarret Doege looked like in brown and orange is probably nothing like what he will look like in gold and blue. More tellingly, there has been no indication that anyone other than Austin Kendall, Jack Allison, and then Trey Lowe in Allison’s place, has received live reps in practice. Neal Brown said several times after Allison replaced Kendall during the Iowa State game that he would not call a play that the quarterback has not run in practice. If Jarret Doege has yet to run any plays in practice, then Neal Brown will not call plays for him in a game.
This is not to say that Trey Lowe and Jarret Doege will not play significantly down the stretch. Lowe saw snaps at Oklahoma and while Brown seemed unpleased by the production while he was in the game, he said nothing that would make it seem like the Tennessee-native is out of the game plan entirely. For Doege, his chance will likely come in the final four games. Whether that includes a bowl remains to be seen. Being able to maintain a redshirt for Doege is extremely important for the coaching staffs plans at the position as if he were to play more than four games, he would be in line to graduate alongside Kendall and Allison after next season. While Jarret Doege may make the remainder of the season more palatable for the fans, Neal Brown is building for the future and will not compromise that future in response to criticism.
Austin Kendall is the starting quarterback for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Brown is more aware of what is going on in his locker room, on his sideline, and between the hashes on Saturdays than any fan, critic, or media member. He is the one painstakingly watching each detail of each play in film study and actively working to correct mistakes during the week. It is clear to him that Austin Kendall has done nothing to put his position as WVU’s starting quarterback in jeopardy. Because of this, it should be clear to each and every fan as well.
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