Less than two weeks before they kick off against James Madison in the season opener, the West Virginia Mountaineers are yet to have a definitive starting quarterback named — a problem they’ve not faced since the Millard/Childress/Trickett battle that lasted well into the 2013 season. Head coach Neal Brown may have an idea of which way he’s leaning but, if that’s the case, he’s kept it close to the vest and has done a good job at not tipping his hand.
With very little information leaking out of the last two weeks of practice, I can only base this position preview on the few quotes from Brown and the nearly non-existent trickle of inside information through third and fourth party sources. The current thinking is that Coach Brown will make an announcement about the starter at his press conference this afternoon, but I expect this battle to last throughout the first two to three games of the season.
THE PRESUMPTIVE STARTER
Until Neal Brown announces otherwise, Austin Kendall is likely the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback when James Madison comes to town in a week and a half. The former Oklahoma Sooner transferred to West Virginia shortly after Brown took control of the program in January, and was presumed to be the lock from day one by most fans. The redshirt junior served as the backup to two Heisman Trophy winners — Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray — and if Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley is to be believed, pushed Murray for the starting job in 2018.
Kendall took snaps with the first-team offense in the 2019 Gold-Blue Spring Game in April and completed 7-of-12 attempts for 154 yards and one touchdown, but wasn’t particularly impressive — perhaps due to a left leg injury he was dealing with at the time. Kendall has participated been full participation in camp over the last couple weeks, so it seems as though there isn’t any lingering issues with the leg.
THE PRESUMPTIVE BACKUP
The next man up for West Virginia is Jack Allison. Allison served as backup to Will Grier in 2018 and started the 2018 Camping World Bowl in Grier’s absence, where he completed 17-of-35 attempts for 277 yards. Prior to Austin Kendall’s arrival, Allison was expected to be in a two-man battle with Trey Lowe for the starting job.
The 6’6” redshirt junior started the Gold-Blue Spring Game with the second-team offense, and completed 11-of-24 passes for 112 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Reports out of camp had Allison pushing Kendall for the starting job early, but the gap between the two has apparently widened enough that Allison is expected to start the season as the backup — although he could make a push for playing time as the season progresses.
THE (REDSHIRT) FRESHMAN
Even though he’s probably not going to be named the starting quarterback for the Mountaineers this season, Trey Lowe could realistically see a decent amount of playing time throughout the course of the season. Lowe saw very limited action in the Camping World Bowl, but did show that he can run when he ripped off a nine yard run just before halftime. Lowe completed 4-of-7 passing attempts for 51 yards and a touchdown in the Gold-Blue Spring Game. The 6’2” redshirt freshman from Tennessee is the fastest guy in the quarterback room and could offer Neal Brown the ability to run the zone read.
I’m going to go ahead and include Jarret Doege in this cast of characters because, as of the time of writing, the NCAA has yet to rule one way or the other on the former Bowling Green quarterback’s waiver request. The 6’2” junior was a two year starter for the Falcons and led the Mid-American Conference in passing yards and touchdowns in 2018, throwing for 2660 yards and 27 touchdowns. West Virginia announced the addition of Doege in May, following a less than stellar Spring performance from the rest of the Mountaineer quarterbacks.
The NCAA will most likely end up denying the waiver request but on the off chance that they approve it, you’re probably looking at the starting quarterback. Worst case scenario is that Doege has to use his redshirt this season while he sits out due to transfer rules, and we get to have this battle again next year. [Editors Note: Doege was granted eligibility after this article was posted. The link to his eligibility is below]