Bowl on the line
by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University Football Team kept its post season bowl hopes alive last Saturday with a 31-23 win over Texas at Mountaineer Field. Only 2-9 Kansas stands in the way of WVU becoming bowl eligible for the 2021 season. Most fans look at beating Kansas a mere formality as the Jayhawks have been the doormat of the Big 12 for years. Odds makers seem to agree as West Virginia was a 15.5 favorite Monday afternoon.
Based on the 2021 season results thus far which shows Kansas losing by three or more touchdowns in seven games this season, one might assume this is the typical Kansas team. Well, in the last month the Jayhawks have shown a pulse. On October 23 Kansas made noise when they led then undefeated Oklahoma 10-0 at the half. They ended up on the short end of a 35-23 decision.
The following week they were blown out by Oklahoma State 55-3, then lost to Kansas State 35-10 before stunning Texas in Austin with a 57-56 overtime win. Last week Kansas was competitive in a 31-28 loss at TCU. All of which is to say West Virginia should be able to handle its business, but we’ve seen Mountaineer inconsistency from one week to the next all season, so who knows?
Mountaineer fans will undoubtedly want a repeat effort of the Texas game, especially that of quarterback Jarret Doege, who was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for his effort.
Doege completed 27-of-43 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in West Virginia’s 31-23 win over Texas. His completions went to nine different receivers. Doege’s 556 career completions rank third in program history while the 238 in 2021 are 10th in single-season school history. The senior from Lubbock, Texas, recorded his 11th multiple-TD pass performance in his WVU career, including his sixth with three scores. With 6,143 career passing yards, Doege is now fifth in Mountaineer records while his 37-career touchdown passes rank 10th.
Doege has been a lightning rod for criticism most of the season, and last year too, for his tendency to make critical mistakes at inopportune times. Yet, there he is making his way up the statistic lists of Mountaineer passing records.
During the broadcast it was reported from the sideline reporter that Doege had told her that he planned to return next fall for his final season. Fans already knew Doege did not walk with the seniors during pregame Senior Day festivities. That alone had the more vocal of the internet types up in arms, then the report that seemed to confirm his intention to return added more fuel.
Those fans who want to run Doege out of town need to slow down. First, thinking that top quarterback recruit Nicco Marchiol, who plans to enroll in January, can come in and be more effective as a true freshman than a six-year veteran is perhaps too optimistic. Maybe Marchiol can make a run for Doege’s job, but it’s doubtful it can happen by next fall, at least by September.
I think we’ve seen enough from Garrett Greene to conclude he’s having a tough time getting the entire playbook into his arsenal. There have been positive reports concerning true freshman quarterback Will Crowder, but he’s only seen action in the LIU blowout in September.
Unless head coach Neal Brown can make a killer find in the transfer portal, Doege’s return is intriguing to me. He’s proven that given time and protection he’s effective. While the opposite is also true, his protection should be much improved next season, so he’ll be good to have around until some young gun can take the job.