Last night, as the West Virginia Mountaineers defense played one of the best games of their lives in a semi-hostile road environment in Waco, Texas, the offense once again struggled. The struggles are the same that have plagued Neal Brown’s offense throughout the season — inadequate blocking, no run game, dropped passes and, yes, bad quarterback play. Now, the time has come to fix at least one of those, or at least try. It is time to make a switch at quarterback.
No, it’s not entirely Austin Kendall’s fault for the lack of offense. He can’t catch the ball for Sam James or open up holes for Kennedy McKoy and Leddie Brown to gain more than one yard per rushing attempt. However, I’m not sure how anyone can watch Kendall’s performance last night in Waco — with the terrible throws on a simple slant and electing to throw into double coverage rather than hitting the wide open receiver in the middle of the field — and think he’s the best option going forward and into the 2020 season. That’s not a knock on Kendall at a personal level, because I believe he truly is a good human being and is absolutely giving this Mountaineer team 100% effort. He’s just not able to get the offense kicked into gear, so you start looking for someone who can.
Thanks to the NCAA rule that allows a player to play in up to four games and still retain his redshirt, Jarret Doege can start the next four games and still have two years remaining in the Old Gold and Blue. Is that to say that Doege will be able to get something going? Absolutely not, but you have to at least put yourself in the best possible situation to pick up the three wins needed to make a bowl game — which is still very much on the table.
Before you start rattling off all of the reasons that Kendall should stay, let’s take a look at what Doege dealt with as a starter at Bowling Green last year. He was sacked 29 times in 2018, while Kendall has only been sacked 10 times through the first eight games. Despite the increase in sacks, Doege only threw 12 interceptions last year. Kendall has thrown 8 with less pressure.
The Mountaineers can still make a bowl game this year, and that should be the goal for the team — if nothing else but for that valuable extra practice time that comes along with it. If West Virginia does reach that goal and Doege has started his four games, then Kendall, Trey Lowe or Jack Allison can take the final start of 2019. As of right now, the offense is stagnant. Since a 42-31 loss to Texas at home, West Virginia’s offense has scored 28 points in its last 12 quarters. The defense and special teams have scored half the points the offense has, with a interception return by Tykee Smith and last night’s kick return from Winston Wright.
2019 isn’t a lost season by any means, but we’ve hit a critical point where that window is narrowing with each bad pass. The Mountaineers have four games remaining on the schedule, all of which are winnable if we can get any sort of offense going. We need a spark, and that starts with giving another quarterback the ball to see if they can create it.