West Virginia Head Coach Neal Brown is really, really good at “coach speak”, jargon designed to motivate players and seemingly confuse fans. Brown, at his end of the season press conference, discussed his quarterback situation for next season’s team and I was really quite taken aback by his comments.
“I’m going to go back and evaluate Austin (Kendall) and Jarret (Doege) and see how they did and try to take the emotion out of each game and just kind of look to see how they managed the offense, how productive they were on decision-making and those type of things.”
Of course Neal Brown was going to evaluate the performance of all of his players, but he couldn’t seriously consider playing Austin Kendall over Jarret Doege next season, could he?
The answer is no. Any casual observer could see the difference between Kendall and Doege. Doege is the superior quarterback and it’s not even close. I’ve seen the argument made that Kendall’s stats this season were comparable to Doege’s and frankly they are at first glance, but these statistics are not a true indicator of performance.
Kendall finished the season 187 of 304 (61.5%) with 1,989 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His quarterback rating was 122.9.
Doege was 79 of 120 (65.8%) with 818 yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 137.3.
The big difference was not just wins and losses (Kendall was 3-6, Doege was 2-1), it was the calm and composure that Doege had in the pocket. Jarret Doege is an experienced, seasoned, proven quarterback and there is absolutely no doubt that he gives the Mountaineers the best chance of winning for the next two seasons.
Neal Brown coming out and naming Doege the unquestioned starter for next season doesn’t benefit anyone. Naming Doege the starter would only upset the emotionally fragile Austin Kendall (and likely send him to the Transfer Portal or football oblivion) and it would make Doege comfortable. No coach wants one of their players to be comfortable and so it behooves Brown to keep up the illusion of competition for as long as he can get away with it.
While Neal Brown will never admit it now, Jarret Doege will be the starter next season. Austin Kendall – perpetually shaken by his incredible fall from highly-touted 4 star recruit out of high school to career backup – will either have to decide to transfer for a shot at playing in his Senior season or quit football entirely. His experience (as a backup) would be beneficial to the team, so hopefully he makes the right decision and returns.
Don’t be fooled by Neal Brown’s coachspeak. There is a method to his madness and he will make the right decision for the future of the West Virginia football program.