MORGANTOWN – Let’s for a moment dream the impossible dream, West Virginia winning out behind new quarterback Jarret Doege, which means beating Oklahoma State this week and TCU next week to finish the season bowl eligible.
Sounds great, unless you happen to be head coach Neal Brown, who is suddenly looking at a really difficult decision.
One assumes the Mountaineers finish with a three-game winning streak and that Doege will have played well.
That would mean he played four games this year, which is the limit if you are going to redshirt this season, which has been the plan all along.
Do you play Doege in the bowl game and blow the redshirt year you wanted for 2022 or do you sit him down for that game, let either the man he replaced, Austin Kendall, or Trey Lowe III play the bowl.
That was the question that was directed to Brown and it was a question he wasn’t about to field at the moment.
“Let’s worry about that if that happens. I’m not trying to be a smartaleck. I understand the question,” he said.” I haven’t mentioned the word bowl in this building until now.
“That’s not something I’m really worried about.... my message since that debacle in the first half against Missouri is that I just want to get better.... that’s the best we’ve played as a football team on Saturday. I want to consistently get better.”
That, of course, is a no comment on a topic that is important.
Did Brown, to get Doege’s feet wet against Texas Tech, possibly blow that redshirt year?
Certainly, if WVU goes to a bowl game he would owe it to those players who stuck with him through this and won three straight at the end — especially the seniors who would love to win their final game — to make that happen.
But the trade off is to the younger players who will still be here in two years and could well be looking at a big time season to cap off a three-year building program.
Then there are attitudes, too, for would Austin Kendall really want to be called back to replace Doege in order to preserve his redshirt season and if he isn’t and Lowe is the choice would that be the last WVU sees of the Oklahoma transfer who has ridden an emotional roller coaster through this year.
However difficult the problem, it would be a good one to have for Brown.
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Placekicker Evan Staley, who has been sidelined for a couple of weeks with a groin problem, was scheduled to try kicking on Tuesday but there was no word on whether he would be ready for Saturday’s game.
Casey Legg kicked a 51-yard field goal in that game, the longest by a Mountaineer in four years, and as Neal Brown pointed out, it changed the game because Kansas State needed a touchdown to win on its final drive rather than a field goal.
However, it was Australian punter Josh Growden who was selected as special teams player of the week for the K-State game as he averaged 41.5 yards per punt with no return yardage and with a perfect pooch kick that made K-State start that final drive from its own 8.
Growden, who with Legg and guard Michael Brown, gives WVU three starters who did not play football in high school, also made it possible for Legg to kick his field goal by handling a high snap and getting it in place for the kick.
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It looks like wide receiver T.J. Simmons, who has missed two weeks will return for Oklahoma State but may not be 100%.
“T.J., I think, will play,” said Brown. “He won’t probably be at the same point as he was before Baylor. He’s at a point where he’ll play, but he won’t be 100-percent. He won’t play the same number of reps.”
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Multiple West Virginia student-athletes were recognized for their accomplishments in the classroom, led by Jake Abbott, Hakeem Bailey, Josh Chandler, Reese Donahue, Elijah Drummond, Noah Guzman, Adam Hensley, Trey Lowe III, Sean Mahone, Briason Mays, Mike O’Laughlin, Jeffery Pooler Jr., Blaine Scott, Evan Staley, Adam Stilley and Logan Thimons, who earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team distinction.
Stilley was one of seven Big 12 Conference student-athletes to have a 4.0 grade point average.
Michael Brown, Sam Cookman, Colton McKivitz, Sean Ryan, Alec Sinkfield and Kelby Wickline were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second Team.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel