Doege Leads WVU To Victory In His First Start As A Mountaineer
MANHATTAN, KANSAS – When West Virginia took the field for its opening offensive snap of Saturday’s game at Kansas State, Jarret Doege trotted out as the Mountaineer quarterback.
Austin Kendall had started the first nine games at that position for WVU, but with a 3-6 record and in the midst of a five-game losing streak, West Virginia coach Neal Brown decided to try something new – Doege was that something.
The transfer from Bowling Green, who the Mountaineers have held back until late in the season to preserve his redshirt, not only got the start, but he was there for the finish, kneeling down at the end in the victory formation to punctuate West Virginia’s 24-20 victory over the No. 24 Wildcats.
WVU head coach Neal Brown had kept his decision to start Doege under wraps from the public, but he told the redshirt sophomore on Tuesday.
“Earlier this week they told me,” said Doege when asked when he learned he was going to start. “I just told myself, I’ve done this before, and to just prepare like I’ve always prepared.”
The move to Doege also obviously impacted Kendall, the junior who transferred to West Virginia in January and had been the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback up to this point.
“Austin is obviously disappointed,” said Brown. “You’ve heard me say this before, and it’s not just me taking up for him, but it’s the truth. Our struggles have not been before of (Kendall). He was not the reason we were losing, but I just felt we had lost five in a row and needed a change-up. Jarret had practiced well, so we made the decision.”
Doege not only practiced well through the week, but also played well on Saturday, completing 20-of-30 passes for 234 yards with three TDs and no interceptions in Manhattan.
“I thought Jarret managed the game very well, knowing when to take chances and when not to take chances,” stated Brown. “He was under control. He extended plays and didn’t turn the football over.”
Doege started 17 games at Bowling Green the previous two seasons, completing 362-of-577 passes for 4,041 yards with 39 TDs and 15 INTs, so obviously he wasn’t new the college game.
He saw action in the fourth quarter for the Mountaineers’ in their loss last week against Texas Tech, but his first start with WVU came at K-State.
“There are always some nerves before every game,” he admitted. “My heart was beating a little fast at the start, but once you throw that first pass, it’s gone.”
And the game itself wasn’t much different than what he experienced play in the Mid-American Conference either.
“It’s a little faster up front, both offensively and defensively they are bigger and faster,” Doege explained. “But football is football. If you can play football, you can play football.”
Two of Doege’s three touchdowns Saturday went to senior George Campbell, a graduate transfer from Florida State.
The pair has a special bond.
“George is my roommate,” smiled Doege, who is a native of Lubbock, Texas. “He came in during the summer, and I came in this summer, so since we both needed a place to stay, we started rooming together. We developed a good connection when we both got here.
“I always told him that if I threw him my first touchdown, that would be insane.”
Campbell had five catches for 92 yards against K-State, giving him 14 catches for 377 yards on the season. Of his 14 receptions, six have gone for TDs.
“Every time he catches the ball, he seems to find the end zone,” chuckled Campbell’s proud roomie.
Doege also connected with redshirt freshman Bryce Wheaton for a 50-yard TD strike in the fourth quarter that ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
On the play, West Virginia’s quarterback scrambled to his left and looked up to see Wheaton all alone behind the Kansas State secondary.
“Getting outside the pocket and making plays is just instinct,” Doege explained. “I wanted to just get (the pass) up there and try to give him a chance.
“When I looked up after I got off the ground, he was in the end zone.”
Doege has now played in two games with the Mountaineers, and he can see action in each of the final two regular season games to come as well and still maintain his redshirt status. That will allow him to have two more years of eligibility at WVU.
“I was perfectly fine with it,” he stated of being redshirted. “It’s allowed me to get in the weightroom, and Coach Mike (Joseph) has worked with me a lot and changed my body to help me be a better quarterback.”
He still has two more games and two more years to continue to show the Mountaineers what kind of quarterback he is.
Certainly if his first start shows a great deal of promise for the future.