The West Virginia University Mountaineers are now almost a week into fall camp as they prepare for the start of the 2019 season. The new year begins in just a few weeks when WVU football takes on the Dukes from James Madison.
The start of a new college football season is always a fun time because teams and fan bases have the chance to be as optimistic as possible. Even with a lot of critical departures, the Mountaineers enter this year with plenty of hope that they can get the job done.
With Will Grier off to the NFL, head coach Neal Brown came into training camp with intentions of finding his new quarterback. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
After a week into practice, not much has developed in WVU’s quarterback competition. Several candidates are still in the race and could end up starting in the Mountaineers’ opener Aug. 31.
Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall remains the favorite, but he’s yet to solidify the position ahead of others like:
- Jack Allison
- Trey Lowe
- Jarrett Doege.
Despite WV sportsbooks projecting the Mountaineers’ win total at five games, bettors in the Mountain State are anxious for football to return.
Although there still isn’t an online sportsbook available in WV, that could change soon. There is some speculation that FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook might be available in the upcoming weeks.
It’s been a difficult few months for sports betting in WV. Major sporting events have slowed down significantly, and with no football on the schedule yet, gamblers have been taking it easy.
This should all change rather quickly as football, and more importantly, Mountaineer football makes its return at the end of the month.
Let’s take a look at how WVU fall camp is going and how the team looks heading into 2019.
Of course, the most important news out of camp is anything related to the quarterback battle. Some might have thought that a starter would emerge once the team got a few practices in, but that’s just not the case.
In fact, the quarterback situation might have gotten even more confusing since the spring.
Besides Kendall and Allison being the frontrunners with Lowe also in the mix, newly added Bowling Green transfer Jarrett Doege has made his name known as well.
Doege actually has the most playing experience of any QB on the roster. He started 17 games over the last two seasons and is showing the coaching staff a lot.
According to WV Metro News, quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan is impressed so far. He said:
“Doege brings confidence to the room. He’s a confident quarterback. He started for over a year and he came from a similar offense, so he’s comfortable. As long as he can continue to improve [on] the bad habits that he brought, and he’s done a good job with that, he’s going to be a good player before he leaves here.”
This would typically give a player a leg up on the competition, but it’s unlikely that Doege will be able to even play this year because of the transfer rules. He’s applied for immediate reinstatement from the NCAA, but WVU isn’t expecting to have Doege in games this year.
A starter, please?
Unless something crazy occurs, the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback will be either Austin Kendall, Jack Allison or Trey Lowe. Despite each having several differences, they all have more than enough talent to succeed even with their inexperience.
Kendall, who was expected to be the starter once he transferred from OU, needs to take advantage of this opportunity. The quarterback was highly regarded coming out of high school but was unable to find playing time behind the likes of Heisman winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
Kendall has been getting the most practice reps with the first-team offense. This is a good sign, but coach Reagan is waiting to see everything come together for the junior quarterback.
“Austin is more comfortable as a leader. He’s good around the guys. They follow him well. But we have to stay focused each play. That’s where we’re struggling right now. It’s the hardest position to play in sports. You have to stay focused from one play to the next. You have to have the next-play attitude.”
Clearly, Kendall’s play hasn’t been good enough to stop this from being a true quarterback competition. If he doesn’t figure it out soon, he may just end up back on the bench for the start of the season.
While Allison might have the best deep ball of the quarterbacks, it’s redshirt freshman Trey Lowe who has been turning heads.
Coach Reagan added:
“Trey is a really, really good football player. He has to be more confident in himself. He can do it. He can execute the offense. He just has to believe in himself to get the job done.”
It would be uncommon for someone like Lowe to win the starting job with the other quarterbacks on WVU’s roster, but perhaps this year is the perfect storm for the freshman. WVU’s potential future star QB may get an early start to his career.
Another good sign for Lowe and Kendall was the fact that the offense really struggled during Tuesday’s practice when the two were not with the starting squad.
Allison, Doege and the other redshirt freshman, Trent Jackson, took the majority of snaps and things did not turn out well. This quarterback race might be coming down to a two-man battle.
Reagan is confident that someone will win the job. He said:
“One day, after however many practices, we’re going to sit down and talk and it’s going to be clear enough to say, ‘He’s our guy.'”
Betting on WVU football
Currently, sportsbooks still don’t have a line for WVU’s first game against JMU. The Mountaineers are likely sizable favorites against their FCS opponent.
Odds might be provided once the team lands on a starting quarterback.
While bettors wait for the week 1 point spread, there are still a few futures available. Right now, WV residents can place a wager at any of the three active retail sportsbooks in the state:
According to DraftKings in New Jersey, the Mountaineers have the following odds for the 2019 season:
- Over 5 (-110)
- Under 5 (-110)
Big 12 champion
- WVU +2500