by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University Football Team continues to work toward its opener against James Madison on Saturday, August 31 and while there are numerous position battles going on, the quarterback battle is quite possibly the most important one. If there is a clear favorite first year head coach Neal Brown is not dropping hints.
On the outside looking in, there may be reason for concern. We saw Jack Allison have an unimpressive bowl game last December. We have seen very little of dual threat redshirt freshman Trey Lowe. So, when WVU pursued and landed Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall last January it was thought Kendall would be the next Mountaineer starting quarterback.
He didn’t come with a lot of game experience, but he did spend two seasons backing up Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray who have won the last two Heisman Trophies. Plus, it was reported Murray didn’t win the Sooner job over Kendall until the final week of fall practice last season.
Many took it as a red flag when Brown and his staff took in another quarterback transfer following spring practice. Jarret Doege, who started 18 games at Bowling Green, is now a Mountaineer. Doege’s older brother Seth started at Texas Tech and was coached by Brown. WVU is trying to get the Lubbock native a hardship waiver so he can be eligible this season. What I don’t know is if the staff is desperately trying for the waiver, or just covering the bases.
Defense dominated Saturday’s scrimmage where Kendall and Allison played with the first team offense against the first team defense, while Lowe muddied the water with an impressive performance with the second team offense against the second team defense. It’s not clear if Doege received any reps in the scrimmage.
Briefly, the WVU basketball team was in Spain last week to tour the country and play three exhibition games. Head coach Bob Huggins wanted to play teams that were better than the teams WVU played when they did a summer tour in the Bahamas several years ago. I don’t remember how bad the Bahamian teams were, but the Spanish teams the Mountaineers played this summer offered little resistance. WVU won all three games 97-69, 115-50 and 98-67. Team bonding is likely the best net result of the trip.
Obviously drawing any conclusions from these results would be foolish, but offering a couple first impressions might not hurt. The biggest disappointment was that prized recruit Oscar Tshiebwe could not make the trip. The Republic of Congo native had Visa difficulties and could not travel to Spain.
Turned out Derek Culver and Logan Routt were all the inside size WVU needed. Culver is a double-double machine and it is maddening to me to think of how much more unstoppable he’d be if he would be able to go to his right. The competition was sub par, but Routt looks different. He’s lighter and appeared to be running the floor and moving inside better than ever. We’ll see how well that translates to Big 12 play, but he looks to have raised his game.
Emmitt Matthews has added 25 pounds to his frame and will be a big factor this season. If he can find a perimeter shot he can be elite. Newcomers freshman Miles McBride and JUCO transfer Taz Sherman should factor into rotation early on in the upcoming season.