MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Quarterback Jarret Doege will serve as West Virginia’s second-string quarterback against Texas Tech, coach Neal Brown announced during his Thursday night radio show.
The move has been in the work for a few weeks, as evidenced by previous backup Jack Allison’s decision to enter the transfer portal this week.
Doege transferred to West Virginia from Bowling Green in the offseason. He was a two-year starter for the Falcons, passing for 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes.
If Doege makes his West Virginia debut on Saturday, it would certainly make for a Hollywood storyline. Doege, a graduate of Cooper High in Lubbock, Texas, would be facing his hometown team. His older brother, Seth, played for the Red Raiders when Brown was that program’s offensive coordinator.
Brown has made it clear that the plan is to redshirt Doege this season, meaning he will appear in no more than four game.
Freshman running back Tony Mathis finds himself in the same boat. Brown said that Mathis will definitely play against the Red Raiders, and possibly get a good amount of carries behind starter Kennedy McKoy.
“Mathis is decisive. He’s shoulders to the goal line,” Brown said. “It’s time to see what he can do.”
West Virginia’s receiving corps has been plagued by drops all season.
Even the team’s top target, redshirt freshman Sam James, has not been immune. James had multiple drops at both Oklahoma and Baylor. Fellow freshman Bryce Wheaton had perhaps the ugliest drop of the year against the Bears, letting a potential third-down conversion that hit him in the chest fall to the ground in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not just been the drops,” Brown said. “It’s the critical points of those drops.”
That’s what tells Brown that the issue isn’t with their hands as much as it is between the ears.
“It’s more mental than physical,” Brown said. “We don’t have a guy on the team with below-average hands. When you experience drops in critical situations, it becomes a mental deal.”
With four freshmen playing so many snaps — James, Wheaton, Winston Wright and Ali Jennings — Brown said the repetition is the key to getting past the issue.
“You solve it through repetitions,” Brown said. “We’ve moved tennis ball machines into our position room. We’ve added a JUGS mahchine into workouts.”
Loe man wins
A most unlikely cornerback appeared on the field for West Virginia late in last Thursday’s game at Baylor.
With the Mountaineers down to their last safety on the bench, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning moved had Keith Washington serving as a safety while moving Will linebacker Exree Loe over to cornerback.
It was no accident. The Mountaineers used a four-safety dime as their base defense against the Bears, and prepared for the possibility that Loe might need to get some reps at corner. Fortunately, he played the position in high school, so it was not an awkward transition.
“It worked out in our favor with Exree being a former corner in high school and me being a corner coach by trade,” said outside linebackers coach Al Pogue. “It’s working out. I don’t know if other people have that luxury. He’s doing a great job of doing it. There’s still some things to knock the rust off, but I’m excited to see what can happen with a full week of doing some things.”
According to Pogue, Koenning has been using linebackers who can double as safeties since their time at Troy.
“It’s always been a part of our defense where we try to change the picture that the quarterback may see,” Pogue said. “That will definitely do it. It’s something we brought out of the archives and hopefully it will cause guys some issues.”
Naturally, it took a little bit of time for the first-year coaching staff to figure out which player on the roster was best suited for the task.
“We just sit down and understand what we’re trying to do schematically and find the best kids to give us the best versatility,” Pogue said. “We’ve been fortunate to do so, and hopefully we’ll continue that run.”
Once linebacker Josh Norwood returns from the knee injury he sustained against Oklahoma, the Mountaineers will be better able to take advantage of Loe’s unique versatility.
Love for Lubbock
Without his experience at Texas Tech, Neal Brown likely isn’t at West Virginia right now.
Brown served as the Red Raiders offensive coordinator from 2010-12, his first job in a major conference. As such, he has a soft spot in his heart for Lubbock, and not just because it is where his second daughter was born.
“My wife and I made as good of friends as we’ve made throughout all our moves in Lubbock,” Brown said. “It was a unique time in that program’s history because of the way [Mike] Leach left and all that stuff. I was fortunate enough to coach some really good players. We had some really good offenses there. That’s a time I look back at and we definitely enjoyed.”
Both McKoy and safety Noah Guzman, who left the Baylor game with injuries, will return to the field against Texas Tech.
Right guard Chase Behrndt is a game-time decision, as is linebacker Josh Chandler.
“If Josh looks good in pregame warmups, he will play,” Brown said.
Chandler left the Oklahoma game with a strained knee, and was not expected to be back until the Kansas State game at the soonest.
Kicker Evan Staley has been ruled out, giving another opportunity to walk-on Casey Legg.
Wide receiver T.J. Simmons is still considered doubtful this week, Brown said.
West Virginia will pay homage to the state’s veterans and active-duty service members with a new helmet.
In place of the Flying WV, this week’s blue helmets will instead feature the American flag within the outline of West Virginia. The Mountaineers will also wear blue jerseys and blue pants.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) November 7, 2019