West Virginia’s chances for an elusive bowl berth rest with a quarterback who wasn’t a significant part of the offense a few games ago.
Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege delivered last week in his first start when West Virginia needed a spark at Kansas State to end a five-game losing streak.
“My first thoughts were just take it as another game,” Doege said. “I’ve done this before, and just prepare like I’ve always prepared.”
The junior is expected to get the call again when the Mountaineers (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) try to break another futility streak in their home finale Saturday against No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 4-3).
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy noted Doege’s play and said “that’s a good win for them, or for anybody. That’s a difficult place to play, especially as well as Kansas State was playing in the last month. To go in there and win, that’s pretty impressive.”
Doege (pronounced DAY-gee) is enjoying the present while being groomed for the future.
He joined the Mountaineers in June and learned in August that he would be immediately eligible. Coach Neal Brown vowed to redshirt Doege, giving him an extra year to learn an offense that also has promising young receivers.
But starter Austin Kendall, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, threw 10 interceptions and lost a fumble in nine games and the Mountaineers found themselves tied for last place with Kansas in the Big 12.
Doege moved up the depth chart after backup quarterback Jack Allison entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal earlier this month. Doege got his first snaps late in the third quarter of a 38-17 loss to Texas Tech on Nov. 9. He threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against the Wildcats.
“Overall, for a first game especially on the road, I thought he handled himself well,” Brown said Tuesday.
Doege threw two first-quarter touchdowns to his roommate, George Campbell. The go-ahead score was a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter to redshirt freshman Bryce Wheaton. Doege scrambled to his left, squared his shoulders and threw just before he got hit.
“When I looked up, he was in the end zone,” Doege said.
Doege started 12 games at Bowling Green a year ago, throwing for 2,600 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Now playing in the Big 12, “it’s a little faster. Up front on offense and defense, it’s a little bigger,” he said. “But at the same time, football’s football.”
Doege’s older brother, Seth, broke several passing records at Texas Tech earlier this decade when Brown was the Red Raiders’ offensive coordinator.
Jarret Doege has “been around the game. He understands it,” Brown said. “You think about it going back to when his brother played, he’s been around a college football locker room for a super, super long time.”
Saturday would mark Doege’s first home start. West Virginia sings John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads” after every home win – something that hasn’t been done since Sept. 14. The Mountaineers have lost three straight at home.
Brown declined to address that, if the Mountaineers become bowl eligible, whether he would use Doege in a fifth game and lose his redshirt.
“Let’s worry about that if that happens. How about that?” Brown said. “I haven’t mentioned the word bowl in this building until just now. It’s not something I’m really talking about.”
Brown said his message since a terrible first half in a 38-7 loss at Missouri on Sept. 7 is “I just want to get better. I just want to improve as we go.
“I want to make sure we put a much better product on the field Saturday in front of our home fans than we did the last time we were in the stadium.”
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25