by Jim Buzzerd
It’s turning into the worst-case scenario for the West Virginia University football team. West Virginia fans knew going into the season that this would be a rebuilding project, but there was hope. That was before a rash of injuries and a couple unforeseen transfers changed the landscape of the team. The Mountaineers were clinging to hope entering last week’s game with Texas Tech that they could get to six wins and qualify for a bowl.
There was a little reason for optimism in that Tech was coming to Morgantown struggling team as well, but still favored by a couple points. Most figured this to be the most winnable game of the remaining four, and who knows; if WVU could get this win, maybe they could get on a roll. Texas Tech quickly put that idea to rest as they scored touchdowns the first five times they had the ball enroute to leads of 28-3 and 35-10 at halftime. The Red Raiders took their foot off the gas in the second half and coasted to a 38-17 win. It was West Virginia’s fifth straight loss.
By contrast, after an opening drive field goal, WVU’s second and third possessions ended with an interception and a fumble. It was hard to watch WVU gifting the next to last team in the Big 12 a blow out win at home. Obviously the challenge now is for coach Neal Brown and his staff to keep the team motivated. Something else Brown needs to figure out is how he will handle the quarterback position.
Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall has started all nine games for WVU this season, but there may be some question as to whether he gets the start at Kansas State this Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN. If you go to the fan chats on the internet Kendall is quite the whipping boy. It’s true, he’s struggled at times, but there is a lot of adversity around him that needs to be considered.
Most notably is an offensive line that can’t protect him nor can it block well enough to provide any kind of run game. He also has a bunch of freshmen receivers with a few drops to their credit. On a veteran team I suspect Kendall would look much different than he has in the gold and blue this season.
On Saturday another transfer quarterback got his first action for the Mountaineers. Jarret Doege (DAY-ghee) came to WVU after two seasons at Bowling Green where he started all 12 games as a sophomore last season. Doege entered the game late in the third quarter and was 11 of 17 for 119 yards and a touchdown.
I know some have anointed Doege the next great WVU quarterback, however what he did Saturday looked good, but it was against a soft zone defense that was protecting a comfortable lead. He may very well be the best quarterback on the roster; it’s just too early to tell based on a little more than a quarter of play. The real question is how Brown proceeds? As of Monday Brown hasn’t commented on the quarterback situation, but Kendall and Doege figure the be the two to battle for the starting job next season, so I would guess we’ll see both players down the stretch.