MORGANTOWN — It's going to happen, WVU head football coach Neal Brown assured those listening to his radio show on Thursday night. Sooner or later, it's going to happen.
What is going to happen?
Quarterback Jarret Doege is going to step up and put it all together.
"I don't when it is going to happen, but sooner or later he's going to have a break out game. It's going to happen," Brown said.
And what better time than Saturday afternoon as the fans return to Mountaineer Field and the opponent is lowly Kansas.
Kickoff is at noon and — the only Big 12 game to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and to be played this week — will be carried on Fox TV.
West Virginia will be looking to win its third game in four outings and will do so against a Kansas team without its head coach. Les Miles came down with the coronavirus during the off-week but was cleared to travel this week for the game. He announced Friday, however, that "after much consideration and several in-depth conversations with the medical team, our coaching staff and Kansas Athletics administration" that he had decided not to accompany his team to Morgantown.
Joshua Eargle, the team's tight end coach and recruiting coordinator, will fill in.
The Jayhawks come in with one of the nation's best and most dangerous running backs in Pooka Williams to challenge what has been a solid WVU defense.
They do not, however, have their normal quarterback, having changed this week to Miles Kendrick, the third starting quarterback in four weeks.
But the focus falls more on West Virginia's quarterback, for Doege is struggling to fulfill the belief Brown has in him.
"If you look at just the pure statistics of it, we don't look like a team that struggled to throw the football," Brown said. "If you look deeper, our yards per attempt is not very good. That tells you we're not very explosive. That's something that we've got to work on.
"There's two ways to do it — you got to throw the ball downfield or you got to make some people miss. So that was our big point of emphasis (this week). Our completion percentage and those kinds of things are fine. We just got to get the ball extended down the field or make some people miss. We worked hard on it in the bye week. We got to get better at it. I think it's going to be a defining (factor)," Brown said.
The question is, what's holding Doege back from taking the next step? It seems to be more personality challenge than a physical one.
"He plays with a burden sometimes," Brown said.
That's what he addresses in conversations with Doege during the week.
"Just play. It sounds simple. Just have fun. I think he puts more stress on himself than he needs to. He's put so much into it and he doesn't want to let people down," Brown said. "Just take each play, man. Be excited about playing. There's no burden. We're playing a game. They call it a game for a reason.. Just go out and have fun.
"He was much more relaxed in practice this week."
Brown can look at Doege from a unique vantage point in that he also coached his older brother, Seth, when he was offensive coordinator at Texas Tech.
"They are similar personalities," Brown said on his show. "They come from a coaching family. Both of them love the game of football. Both of them prepare at such a high level. It was harder on Seth because Seth was playing in his home town. I never get into the comparison game and tell Jarret that Seth was blah, blah, blah.
"Seth performed at a high level but I always thought he was underappreciated by the local people. He came off two ACL injuries in high school, really didn't play as a junior and senior in high school. He waited his time and had good years," he said.
"Both of them are pleasers. Jarret is going to bounce back. I really believe that. I see how he performs in practice. It's just a matter of time until he does it in a game."
The next step is to start hitting passes down field.
"Explosive passes, you have to do it," Brown said. "You go back and look and we threw the ball downfield a good bit against Eastern Kentucky. We attempted a lot of downfield passes against Oklahoma State. We just didn't complete them, whether it was because the line protection, the receivers or the quarterback, but we had several called in the game ... maybe to the point we called too many of them.
"Then we were aggressive throwing the football early in the game against Baylor and then the game sort of switched. If I had it to do over again, and that's a question I always ask on Sunday, if I played the game tomorrow, knowing what I know, what would I have done different?
"There's no doubt, especially later in the second and into the third quarter we were taking more shots downfield. We've worked on it. It's been a point of emphasis. You always identify things maybe you got away with, maybe you didn't, but that you want to work on and improve in."
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