Playing Time Decisions For QBs Of WVU Football, Basketball
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – All of a sudden they’re sitting on two quarterback controversies at West Virginia University.
OK, maybe there’s not a quarterback by name in basketball, but make no doubt that in football and basketball there is now very real competition to find who will run the offense on the field.
In football – and it has been heading toward this for some time – Neal Brown will spend the rest of this year analyzing the play of quarterbacks Austin Kendall, the Oklahoma transfer who has started all year and has another of eligibility, and Jarret Doege, the Texas gunslinger by way of Bowling Green who is using his redshirt this season by limiting his appearances to four games or fewer but who has two years left to play after this.
In basketball – and there weren’t many thoughts of a competition at point guard before the opening game – Bob Huggins will spend his time trying to work out playing time between the incumbent Jordan McCabe and freshman Deuce McBride.
There’s no urgency in either case.
In football, the season has slipped away through a five-game losing streak with two tough road games sandwiched around a visit from high-powered Oklahoma State in between.
It isn’t Kendall vs. Doege.
It’s Kendall and Doege.
Both will play and do so under the pressure of knowing that only one of them can be next year’s starter … and that’s if the athletic Trey Lowe doesn’t convince the coaches in the meantime that he can be the guy.
The problem that Brown faces is that he really can’t use statistics to back up any choice he must make, for Kendall’s chance have been compromised by the team he’s played on, a team decimated by injury, a team where good passes end up in drops and where bad passes can be as much the result of a leaky offensive line as they are of Kendall’s inaccuracy.
Nothing speaks to this more than that Kendall was replaced by Doege on Saturday in a game where he passed for 355 yards despite four drops by receivers on his passes — part of an overall total of seven on the day.
“We do things to beat ourselves over and over again,” Brown said postgame. “Drops. How many did we have? Seven? Seven drops. The turnovers – some of the turnovers happened because we have missed assignments.”
Two of the turnovers were interceptions thrown by Kendall, one on a flea-flicker play where he threw into triple coverage and one when the ball came off George Campbell’s hands.
And then there was a dismal red zone performance which you normally might hang on the QB except he has no running game to help him.
Brown knows what Kendall can do. What he has to do now is play Doege under similar peril and decide which quarterback will go into spring practice No. 1.
If Doege has any advantage it is that this football team is very, very young and may need two years to mature into a winning team … and Doege, not Kendall, will be here in two years.
The difference between the football situation and the basketball one is similar but subtly different,
McCabe has been groomed to become a great point guard but lacks some of the physical attributes to pull it off. He can shoot, pass and dribble while possessing a great understanding of the game unquestioned leadership skills.
“My job is to take care of the ball and find a way to come out with a win,” McCabe said heading into the season when asked to describe how he sees his responsibilities as a point guard.
But he hasn’t been able to play defense at the level Huggins demands.
He is out of the John Stockton school of guard play and had the great Stockton as a tutor, so there will always be a place for him. However, on Friday night in the opener against Akron, he played only 10 minutes to 20 for McBride and played less than two minutes of the second half when the game got tight.
“I know what his expectations are of me,” McCabe has said. “I need to keep us on the straight and narrow by not making dumb mistakes.”
Meanwhile, at first glance, McBride showed himself to be more athletic, quite cool for a freshman and perhaps more of a shooting threat while also playing aggressive defense.
But does Huggins put his team into the hands of someone who has one game’s collegiate experience and who has never experienced failure?
The point guard is too important to make the wrong choice, and McCabe understands that fully.
“Any great team has a great point guard,” he said. “You look at the Raptors last year. You look at Virginia as well. They have really good guard play.”