Many Mountaineer fans, including us with The Voice of Morgantown, consider it a forgone conclusion that Jarret Doege will be WVU’s starting quarterback come September 5th. After having a “mini” breakout over the last three games, the Mountain State is excited to see what the future holds with him in the program. However, while it may seem as if Austin Kendall blew his chance to finish his career as the starting quarterback in Morgantown, he very well may have a strong excuse for his below par play last season, and a case for why he should be considered a legitimate candidate in the quarterback race.

Kendall injured his throwing hand very early in the season in a week two matchup against the Missouri Tigers. Many rumors were swirling that this plagued Kendall all season, and that he even experienced an infection in the cut on his hand. His struggles to push the ball down the field in the vertical passing game could have very easily stemmed from the pain he endured while trying to grip the football each and every passing attempt. If a quarterback’s grip on the football is not tight enough, this will cause the ball to flutter in the air, leading to interceptions. This would make sense as many of Kendall’s deep throws, specifically against Texas Tech, did not reach the receivers on time, ultimately taking potential points off of the board.

Outside of the October 5th contest against the Texas Longhorns, Kendall was never “terrible” in any matchup. No, he wasn’t great, but more often than not he kept the offense somewhat afloat. It is hard to judge many of his games after the Missouri game however, because his injury may have been worse than he led on. In the contest against the James Madison Dukes, the only game prior to his injury, Kendall was at his most efficient. He would finish the game completing 27 of 42 passes, for 262 yards, 2 touchdown passes, and no turnovers. He was sharp, his passes had zip, and he did just enough to lead his team to victory. Had he never been hurt, this could have been the version of Kendall we saw all season.

The lack of a running game was certainly a hinderance to Kendall in the backfield. Teams would show no respect to the Mountaineers’ ground attack, putting all the stress on the shoulders of the Oklahoma transfer to virtually lead the team to victory. All of his struggles in the passing game weren’t entirely his fault, or to the fault of his injury. With no help around him, he could never display his full potential. Should the running game improve, Kendall could possibly look extremely better at the helm of Neal Brown’s offense.

It is no secret that I am no quarterback expert. However, even the average fan could come to the consensus that Kendall was not put in the best of circumstances. Yes, neither was Doege, and Doege would shine the brightest of the two, but we could have a much different quarterback situation in 2020 had Kendall been in a more favorable situation to begin with. It will be Doege’s job, but Austin Kendall does deserve some sort of consideration for the role.