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What I Think About 2020 and That Liberty Bowl Victory

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Austin Kendall caps off a weird 2020 season with a come from behind victory in the Liberty Bowl.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl - West Virginia v Tennessee Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

What A Great Story For Austin Kendall

Kendall had every reason to sulk and pout. Be honest with yourself, it would be tough to be Austin Kendall this season. You transferred from OKLAHOMA to West Virginia. You had the starting quarterback job and got hurt. You eventually lost the quarterback job. You come into your senior season and you are the backup, but not really, as reports have stated that Greene was the #2. You never saw any significant playing time all season and when fans clamored for a quarterback change, your name was not brought up. You’ve already announced that you are done with football and moving on and you get your name called to lead a comeback against Army. Kendall answered the call. He was prepared, which says a lot about him. He made some plays. He lead a comeback. For 30 minutes, Austin Kendall was enough to get a win. Good for you Austin.

Kendall Was Better, But Not Great

Momentum

Bowl games mean nothing, yet they mean almost everything. In a normal year, the extra practices are invaluable for teams. You can go back to 2011 when the team used the practices before the Orange Bowl to come into the 2012 season on fire. I’ve been critical of the team and of Neal because it is year two and you can say we are better but how much better? Six wins is one more than last year and it helps bring his overall record at WVU to 11-11. Bowl games mean nothing, but going into 2021 with the momentum of a win is good. It’s easy to forget that the last bowl win came from Skyler Howard in the Cactus Bowl and the one before that was the Orange Bowl. Bowl wins haven’t been commonplace.

Darius Stills

Seeing this tweet after the game made my heart swell. Darius has had an amazing career and is on the cusp of becoming the first concensus All American since Dan Mozes and Steve Slaton in 2005. Stills, sitting on the field in his football uniform after the come from behind victory, soaking in all that college football has to offer, hits you right in the feels. It is his first bowl victory. It is the last time he’ll play college football. It is the last time he’ll play football with his brother. His brother was the more highly touted recruit but the career that Darius has put together is outstanding.

2021 Quarterback

Okay, let’s get to the elephant in the room. The quarterback situation. Jarret Doege is likely the incumbent but do you have confidence in the offense if he is the quarterback in 2021? I do not. Maybe that is not okay to say but I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of progress and there doesn’t appear to be any real growth for a player who has a played significant time before coming to West Virginia and now over a full season at West Virginia. It is very obvious that Neal Brown’s offense requires a mobile quarterback and that Jarret Doege just isn’t mobile. Going into 2021, I fully expect there to be a “quarterback competition” but if there is, a decision must be made quickly. You know what Doege gives you. If he is your best option, then tailor the offense to him. If he isn’t the best option, choose Crowder or Greene and let them begin to learn.

Going into 2021, the team plays both Maryland and Virginia Tech. It would be very nice to go 3-0 in non-conference play. A winning record in the Big 12 would give us 8 wins and a bowl win would give us 9. I doubt we compete for a title next year but getting that solid footing going would go a long way. If you falter and hold a quarterback competition until the end of camp, you are going to hurt everyone.

2020 Review

This was a weird year. Absolutely atrocious. The team was hurt by a lack of summer camp, but everyone was. There were up and downs but you can see that the team improved. That is the good news. How much of that improvement carries over is to be seen, but the team improved in some specific areas. 2019 the team couldn’t run block to save its life and this year they were a very good run blocking team. The defense took a major step forward and was a dominant unit for much of the year. Finishing at 6 wins is about where I had us at the beginning of the season with a full schedule, so the team actually looked better. Would 8 wins make fans feel better? Yeah probably. There are still lots of problems to fix, mostly on offense but you can see the program building. It is ok to be optimistic at this time. We had it with Rich Rod after 2002. We had it with Dana after 2011. Optimism is good.