WVU Quarterback Situation Still Up in the Air

West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jack Allison (11) throws a touchdown pass against Baylor Bears on Thursday at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Head Coach Neal Brown came into the season with two returning quarterbacks, Junior Jack Allison and Redshirt Freshman Trey Lowe.  After Will Grier decided to not play and instead prepare for the NFL, Allison started last season’s Camping World Bowl game and finished 17 of 35 with 277 yards in a 34-18 loss to Syracuse.  Allison was at times steady and at other times careless, throwing a costly interception at a critical time during the game.  Trey Lowe played sparingly and finished 2-2 with 0 yards.

Neither distinguished themselves as the starter during the bowl game.  Brown realized that both are very capable and well-regarded players but obviously wasn’t fully sold on their potential as his starter, so he convinced Oklahoma player Austin Kendall, a two-year backup for the Sooners, to transfer to WVU.  Kendall was immediately considered by many to be the clear favorite to win the starting job, but Coach Brown has not been fully satisfied with his consistency since coming to Morgantown.

Following a scrimmage back in April, Brown was asked which quarterback has stood out as most productive so far and his response was telling, pointing out Freshman Trent Jackson as the team’s strongest performer at quarterback at the time: “Trent threw the best balls down the field today, Trent did. So, we have to get better at quarterback.  We’re too up-and-down at quarterback right now.  What happens is, at quarterback, you’re only as good as your bad plays, and our bad plays today were really bad; stuff that will get you beat.”

During the Spring Gold-Blue game, the quarterback situation became even less clear.  Kendall and Allison did not perform well and neither looked like a starter on a contending Big 12 team.  Lowe looked slightly better than the other two but threw an interception that would have been run in by the defense for a touchdown in an actual game.  Brown simply won’t accept mistakes that will cost his team games.  In short, there were more questions than answers at quarterback following the Gold-Blue game.

With four quarterbacks (Kendall, Allison, Lowe and Jackson) already taking snaps for WVU, Brown recruited Jarret Doege, Bowling Green’s starting quarterback from last year.  Doege’s eligibility is still unclear as he has filed a waiver for immediate eligibility due to a coaching change at Bowling Green.  The NCAA has recently granted several players immediate eligibility based on coaching changes, as was the case with Miami’s Tate Martell, who transferred from Ohio State after Urban Meyer retired.  Doege’s waiver will likely be approved and he will likely be available this season.  

With five quarterbacks on the roster, it’s unlikely that all of them stay.  The four quarterbacks currently eligible to play are awaiting the NCAA’s decision on Doege.  When his waiver is accepted, Trey Lowe appears to be the odd man out.  He is incredibly talented and will almost certainly be lost in the shuffle.  It would be incredibly difficult for Brown to pick Lowe, a Redshirt Freshman, as his starter over quarterbacks with far more experience.  The chances of Lowe beating out Kendall, Allison and Jarret Doege seems impossible.

In addition, Garrett Greene, the 2020 four star quarterback from Tallahassee, Florida, will be given an immediate opportunity to start once he gets on campus in two years.  Unfortunately, this does not bode well for Lowe.

The most likely scenario is as follows:  Doege’s waiver is accepted and he starts this year.  Kendall will back him up and play occasionally when Doege is struggling or injured.  Allison will remain on the team as the 3rd string quarterback.  Lowe transfers where he will have an opportunity for immediate playing time.  This is unfortunate for Lowe and for WVU because he is probably the most talented quarterback on on the roster.

Doege, Kendall and Allison will remain as the 1, 2, 3 quarterbacks for the next two years until they graduate.  Garrett Greene will learn from the three Senior quarterbacks his Freshman year and be ready to take over the reins during his Sophomore year and he will remain the starter through his Senior season.