When West Virginia head coach Neal Brown took the job back in January of 2019, he knew he had a tall task ahead. The Mountaineers were Big 12 title contenders in 2018 with superstars on offense such as quarterback Will Grier and the dynamic receiving duo of David Sills and Gary Jennings who combined for over 1,900 yards and nearly 30 receiving touchdowns.
The Mountaineers were losing a ton of production heading into 2019 and the rebuilding process began. Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall took the reigns in 2019 and after a sub-par performance for most of that season, he would be replaced by Jarret Doege. Doege would start the final three games of the 2019 season and helped the Mountaineers end a five-game losing streak as he won games against Kansas State and TCU to end the season.
Going into 2020, it was clear that Jarret Doege would be the man moving forward. Now you may look at the 6-4 record and think that things are clearly moving in the right direction but there is still work to be done. It was no secret that West Virginia was held back by their lack of offense this past season. Defensively, they led the Big 12 in scoring defense holding opponents to just 20.5 points per game. Also, keep in mind they didn’t have to play Oklahoma last year, otherwise they would have likely had a 6-5 record.
West Virginia had their fair struggles the last two seasons up front which resulted in a lack of a run game. In 2019, the Mountaineers averaged just 73.3 rushing yards per game which was one of the worst ground games in the country. Last season they bumped that number up to 135.1 yards per game. And let’s not forget about the receiving corps either. They were extremely young and suffered the occasional case of the dropsies from time to time.
With that said, could West Virginia finally take that offensive jump in 2021? Three starters return up front on the offensive line and so does running back Leddie Brown, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in ten games a season ago. And those young wide outs? They come back as experienced receivers and return four out of their five leading receivers from last season with Winston Wright, Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Sam James, and Sean Ryan.
Of course, I cannot forget about the most important piece to the puzzle, quarterback Jarret Doege. Doege made some positive strides last season and believe it or not, he was second in the Big 12 in terms of passing yards per game behind only Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler. He also threw just four interceptions last season which tied with TCU’s Max Duggan for the lowest in the conference for quarterbacks who played at least eight games. He did a good job taking care of the football and sure, he could make a few more plays but it would be hard to point too many fingers towards him due to what he had to work with at times.
I am not saying Jarret Doege needs to be superman next season but if he can continue to build off his 2020 campaign, I think good things can happen for him in 2021. And with the supporting cast continuing to get better around him and a good defense behind him, West Virginia has a chance to turn some heads next season. The biggest question is can he do it? Can Jarret Doege led West Virginia to bigger and better things? I think he can.
**Want to win a $25 gift card? Go sign up here and join our conversation! The best poster each week wins a gift card to your favorite establishment!**