Troy quarterback Jarret Doege's big moment began with a dropped shotgun snap.
Not exactly the script he had in mind. And the players on the Western Kentucky sideline, who were his teammate not long ago, and fans in the stands let him know about it.
Doege said on Monday that it wasn't what they thought.
"I think it was a misconception I dropped it because I was nervous," Doege said. "I knew, myself, that I dropped it because I took my eyes off it, and I confirmed that through the film. I'm staring directly at the running back, pretty much, when the ball is snapped. I knew I didn't drop it because of anybody else. I dropped it because I took my eyes off the ball, and I'm going to go to the next play."
Spoken like a quarterback with plenty of college experience. It's safe to say no team in the country has a more experienced backup quarterback. When the season began, he was the NCAA active leader in passing yards (10,494) and passing touchdowns (79). He built those numbers during a winding college football trek that began at Bowling Green University and continued at West Virginia. He moved on to Western Kentucky earlier this year and planned on adding to those numbers as a Hilltopper. Midway through fall camp, though, Western Kentucky head coach Tyson Helton chose Austin Reed as his starter.
Doege's new college football home, in his sixth season, became Troy, where he settled in as No. 2 on the quarterback depth chart behind Gunnar Watson. On Saturday night, he was back in Bowling Green, Kentucky and ready to play if needed.
"I would say I've been a starter the last five years, pretty much," Doege said. "Doing a backup role has definitely been tough. I always pride myself in being the most prepared on the field. I wasn't going to take a step back in my preparation, even though I wasn't the starter. I know being prepared is going to get me an opportunity. It's not going to grant you success but it's going to give you an opportunity to be successful when you do get out there. I just always wanted to be prepared because I didn't know when my number was going to be called. I just tried to be successful when I got out there."
Watson, who has played well this season, was forced to leave the game with an injury late in the third quarter with the game tied at 20. Doege dropped the first snap, threw an incomplete pass and converted a 4th-and-9 from the Hilltopper 33-yard line with an 18-yard strike to Tez Johnson.
By the time he was through, Doege was 7 of 8 for 71 yards with a pair of touchdowns in the 34-27 win. Not long after the final whistle, he was dancing in the Troy locker room while his teammates chanted his name.
"It's surreal, you couldn't have scripted it any better," Doege said. "It felt like a movie. I was excited to play, excited to go in, perform and get the win."
Troy head coach Jon Sumrall said he's already told Doege that when his playing days are finished, he has a spot on Sumrall's staff. Of course, his playing days aren't done just yet. Sumrall said the staff will know early in the week if Watson is ready to go or Doege will get his first start at Troy and 44th college start overall.
Either way, Doege is going to be ready.
"One thing I'll say about Jarret, he's always ready," said Troy offensive lineman Austin Stidham. "He takes pride in being a good teammate. He takes pride in showing up every day to get better. I know this is a tough role for him. He's going from being a starter for multiple years to being a backup now. He hasn't taken any slack off. He's up here watching film all the time. He's up here working on his craft. Having a guy like that, who's going to be ready when his number is called, he showed that on Saturday, makes the whole team better."
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email [email protected].
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.