MANHATTAN, Kan. — Long before he threw it, Jarret Doege had thought about his first touchdown pass as a starter in gold and blue.
It wouldn’t be the first of his collegiate career — Doege racked up 39 touchdown passes in two seasons at Bowling Green before transferring to West Virginia, as well as another the week prior — but still, it was a moment worth envisioning as he embarked on a fresh start with a new program.
And he envisioned that play with a particular target in mind: redshirt senior wide receiver George Campbell, a fellow transfer who also happens to be Doege’s roommate.
“I always told him that if I threw him my first touchdown, it would be insane,” Doege said.
That’s exactly what happened in West Virginia’s 24-20 victory over K-State Saturday. Doege hit Campbell with his first touchdown pass as a starter in the first quarter, then went back to Campbell again for another score on the final play of the opening period.
The two athletes have lived together since arriving in Morgantown over the summer, and they had their fingerprints all over an effort that snapped the Mountaineers’ five-game losing skid.
Doege recorded three passing touchdowns in his first start, completing 67 percent of his attempts for 234 yards, while Campbell’s two touchdowns brought his season total to six.
“I’m proud of him like he’s proud of me, but he really stepped up and did some big things for us,” Campbell said of the transfer quarterback.
Doege has now thrown four touchdown passes in five-plus quarters of action this season.
Head coach Neal Brown said Doege earned the starting quarterback role over the course of the last two weeks.
Prior to the matchup with Texas Tech, Doege split practice reps with fellow transfer QB Austin Kendall, and ultimately led the offense for a little more than a quarter in a 38-17 loss at home.
After that game, the coaching staff decided to shift the majority of the first-team reps to Doege, giving him the green light to start against the Wildcats.
While Brown has contended that quarterback play hasn’t been the biggest issue for an offense that has struggled all season long, he did think it was time for a “change up” at that position, and Doege had practiced well enough to earn the starting role.
His experience as two-year starter at Bowling Green certainly didn’t hurt his case, either.
“He’s probably played in more football games than anybody on our offense outside of [left tackle] Colton McKivitz, so I knew he’d be able to handle the environment,” Brown said.
Brown noted that Doege appeared poised and calm in his first start in nearly a year. He limited mistakes, didn’t throw any interceptions and was able to evade pressure to keep plays alive.
That last fact was particularly important in one of the game’s critical moments: Doege’s game-winning pass to Bryce Wheaton came after the quarterback evaded heavy pressure, and was still able to complete a deep pass to an open receiver.
“He moved in the pocket, and when he moved in the pocket, he made big plays,” Brown said.
Under the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, Doege can appear in each of West Virginia’s final two games while still preserving his redshirt status this season.