MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Jarret Doege hasn’t had it easy over the last several months.
The last two games of his 2020 campaign were forgettable. He completed just 51 percent of his passes as his Mountaineers got blown out by Iowa State in the regular season finale, and then he got benched during the team’s win in the Liberty Bowl.
After a long offseason, the 2021 campaign started in less-than-stellar fashion. The Mountaineers lost four of their first six, including three losses in one-score games.
In those types of situations, whether it’s fair or not, quarterbacks often shoulder the blame. That’s what happened to Doege.
“You’re talking about a guy that’s gotten beaten up here, a little unjustly, I think,” head coach Neal Brown said Saturday after the Iowa State game. “Sometimes quarterbacks get too much credit, too much blame.”
But in his last two starts, Doege has played less like the quarterback that got benched in the bowl game, and more like the improved veteran teammates promised he would be back in August.
Two weeks ago against TCU, Doege completed 21 of his 28 attempts for 257 yards, helping the Mountaineer emerge from their open week with a 29-17 road win. Then last week, he went 30-46 for a career-high 370 yards in an upset victory against No. 22 Iowa State. He threw a pair of interceptions — including one that was returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter — but he also tossed three touchdown passes, tying his season high.
In a sense, Doege’s performance was a culmination of 10 months of work since his last outing against the Cyclones, and the results were drastically different.
“We wanted to make a statement about how good of a football team we actually are, and when we do our job and do the things that we’re coached to do, we can be a really good football team,” Doege said.
According to Pro Football Focus, Doege was the third-highest graded quarterback in Division I football last weekend, trailing only Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman. He remains the Big 12’s leader in passing yards (2,071) and passing yards per game (258.9).
His head coach thinks he deserves praise.
“That kid’s a great kid. He’s been put through it a little bit, and I thought he was huge [Saturday],” Brown said. “He answered the bell.”
The performance may also be enough to change the narrative on Doege’s season. As Brown indicated, some fans have vocally detested the quarterback’s play throughout the fall on social media, calling for backup quarterback Garrett Greene to replace him.
But it was Greene, not Doege, who addressed those fans Saturday, sending a brief message via the WVU football Twitter account:
“Hey, them Doege haters real quiet now,” Greene said on the sideline in the short video clip.
As for Doege, he knows there’s plenty of noise surrounding his play, but the third-year Mountaineer doesn’t intend to pay attention to any of it.
“I’m in a great state of mind. I’m confident right now in what I’m doing,” Doege said. “I know my teammates believe in me, and I believe in them, and my coaches believe in me, and that’s all I can ask for. Doesn’t really matter what happens outside this building. As long as these guys believe in me, I’ll continue to prepare and work hard.”
The Mountaineers will take on another ranked opponent in Oklahoma State this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.