Memorial Day fireworks and parades have come and gone. Pools are open. School is out (for most). That means summer has arrived. More importantly, less than three months remain until a new college football season begins. As baseball season ended in upsetting fashion, fans turn their focus to summer workouts. This is our early look at the Mountaineers’ quarterback battle.
The battle to take over the vacancy left by Will Grier began in Spring ball with three names. Jack Allison was the heir apparent through the course of last season. And Trey Lowe offered another skill set to the group. After the Mountaineers hired Neal Brown, however, Brown immediately brought in Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall to join the competition. All three displayed some strengths during the Spring game. But each also showed flaws. In numerous interviews during Spring practice, in fact, Brown expressed frustration at how slowly his quarterbacks were developing.
Most recently, Brown added Jarret Doege, an experienced transfer from Bowling Green State, to the quarterback room. Doege has applied for an eligibility waiver, and he has three years to play two. Bringing him on, however, signals at least one important thing: Brown is not letting complacency creep into the team meeting rooms. The question is how the competitors will react.
Of the four competitors, Kendall had the highest composite rating, according to 247Sports. While Kendall has only played in six games for Oklahoma, the redshirt junior completed 72% of his 39 passes, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions. Going into last season, many voices around the Sooners considered Kendall a true contender to take over for Baker Mayfield instead of Kyler Murray. Kendall showed off a nice deep ball during the Spring game, but he also has timing issues to work through with his receivers.
Allison was Grier’s heir-apparent through the course of last season, though he did not receive too many snaps in the regular season. His coming out party, truly, was the Camping World Bowl. And, unfortunately, that did not turn out well for anybody on the team. Allison’s performance was panned, though perhaps unfairly considering the surrounding talent that decided to sit out for the game. Nonetheless, the performance showed Allison needed improvement in poise and mobility. Allison showed much better presence in the Spring Game, though his timing was still off. It took a couple of drives for him to get going, but he ultimately showed a few flashes of brilliance that led us to call him a surprise offensive player prior to last season.
Lowe had a few snaps in the Camping World Bowl as well, though he primarily showed off his legs. His time during the Spring Game was also limited, but he displayed solid arm strength and zip along with potentially dangerous mobility. Lowe would definitely provide the Mountaineers with a look fans have not seen in several years. Regardless, Lowe is definitely an under-the-radar candidate.
Doege’s decision to transfer surprised many. He had solid command of the offense for Bowling Green State, and he was growing into a highly efficient passing threat for the Falcons. Of the bunch, Doege is the most experienced signal caller. He played in 19 games in the past two years for Bowling Green. In that time, Doege threw 577 passes, completing nearly 63% of them. He averaged seven yards per attempt, through for 39 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. And he added four touchdowns on the ground. Doege is probably the most familiar with Brown’s offensive framework, too, as his brother Seth Doege led the Red Raiders during Brown’s tenure as offensive coordinator for Texas Tech.
Who Will It Be?
At this point, we are not willing to make any concrete predictions on who will be the starter. Summer workouts will help each signal caller develop familiarity with the offensive scheme. Those workouts will also help the quarterback develop rapport and timing with the offensive linemen and receivers. There is no shortage of talented bodies in the quarterback room. The question is who will put his skills to best use. Until we see the first weeks of fall camp, it is truly difficult to call this one. The oft-repeated phrase “a team with multiple quarterbacks has none” comes to mind. But it seems Brown intends to avoid complacency and push all four of his truly-talented athletes to the best of their abilities. May the best win the job.