West Virginia vs TCU Game Preview

TCU looks to get back on track against West Virginia. Photo Courtesy: Kent Gilley
TCU looks to get back on track against West Virginia. Photo Courtesy: Kent Gilley

By Will Martin

Game Info
Saturday – November 2 – 2:30 PM
Amon Carter Stadium – Ft. Worth

With the weather returning to a semblance of normal by Texas standards the Horned Frogs will return to an early afternoon game on November 2nd with the Mountaineers of West Virginia.

Both the TCU Horned Frogs and West Virginia enter play on Saturday with identical 3-5 records, 1-4 in Big 12 play.

Whereas Texas waited 19 years for a visit to Ft. Worth this shall mark the first visit ever to Ft. Worth for the Moutaineers. Which is not to say there isn’t a little history here. If you go back to 1984 these programs met in the Bluebonnet Bowl which was played in Houston on New Years Eve. A game West Virginia won 31-14.

Last year when these teams met it was a barn burner for the ages that went in favor of TCU after going to double overtime 39-38. You may recall that Jason Verrett made that extra overtime possible when blocking an attempt of a 36-yard field goal by West Virginia. The victory marked the first time since 2009 at Clemson when a Horned Frog team trailed at the half and came away with a victory.

It should be noted that with the likelihood of Casey Pachall being back at quarterback TCU has never lost three games in a row under Gary Patterson’s watch. While the production from the running game needs to step up, I look for a better effort and contribution from players like BJ Catalon and Trevone Boykin.

Quietly and defensively, Chris Hackett and Elisha Olabode have combined for 102 sacks. Part of the reason the Horned Frogs have kept close in most games.

TCU is on pace to become the first Big 12 team since 1996 (Nebraska) to lead the conference in both sacks and interceptions. The Horned Frogs have a Big 12-leading 24 sacks and 15 picks.

Dana Holgorson is now in his third year as West Virginia coach. Leading his team offensively will be quarterback Clint Trickett (50% passing pct. 75-151 3 Tds # INTs). Tricket will be keeping his eye on running back Charles Sims (600 yards, 5.0 per carry) and Daikiel Shorts. Shoring up the defense for the Mountaineers will be Jared Barber and Darwin Cook (51 tackles and 4 interceptions).

Defensive Tackle Chucky Hunter had a strong game defensively for TCU with nine tackles in his starting debut.

Only three times has TCU been held to seven points in a game since 2000. Prior to Saturday night’s loss to Texas you have to go back to 10/5/06 for TCU to suffer a loss when held to seven points in a game at Utah.

All four of TCU’s losses to top-20 teams this season have seen it with a chance to win. Against both LSU and Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs had the ball with an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth quarter. TCU and Texas Tech were tied with less than four minutes to play. TCU trailed Oklahoma State by seven points midway through the fourth quarter. As for last Saturday night’s 30-7 loss to the Longhorns Gary Patterson in his own way called out his team for a better reflection of leadership and team play.

Talk about Week 9 and what to expect you might expect from West Virginia this week, Coach:

“Week nine, West Virginia. They’re a little bit like us. They’ve had opportunities. They’ve not been able to find a way in the end to finish ballgames. Even last week at Kansas State, they were ahead at halftime. They have a lot of good potential as far as wide receivers. Their skill set is really good. On offense, the key is that they’re finally getting settled in at quarterback. Every week they’ve been getting better. Defensively, they’ve been very physical. They’ve played hard and some really good defense. They are very athletic and physical upfront.”

Any sense of rust or timing issues with Casey Pachall back under center?

“I didn’t think there was that much rust. The key is being on the same page. One of the things we get out of him, which is very obvious even in practice, is the leadership part. After having to sit out, I think he took a whole different perspective. He looked at the game like a coach does compared to like a player, which is a big difference. It’s where you really need to get to if you want to own the system. We still have to do a lot better. In this league, scoring seven points isn’t going to win you very many ballgames.”

How would you compare West Virginia 2012 and West Virginia 2013?

“Last year, they’re basically what we would call 20 personnel – two backs, three wides or a 10 – one back and four wides. Now, they’re a little bit of everything. They’re using a tight end more in short yardage. They’re also using what we call 11 personnel with a tight end and one back. It takes more to prepare for them.”

What can TCU do to sustain better drives?

“The bottom line is that you have to score more points. However you do it, you have to catch passes, sustain drives, run better and block better. If you listen to everybody’s conference call, the guys who are doing well have the same answers. When you’re not winning ballgames, it’s also the same answers that come out. I’ve been on both sides of the street giving the same answers to everybody. You don’t make excuses, and you don’t talk about it. You find ways to get it done.”

At this point in the season what would you say is your biggest challenge?

“I have to stay positive. You have to move forward and get the guys to move up. There are a lot of guys like Denzel Johnson who did an unbelievable job on special teams. If you look at some of our young players, there are a lot of guys doing a lot of good things. That is what you have to be able to do. You have to keep the team growing. If you don’t keep growing, then it carries over to next year and you can’t do the things you need to do. You need them to understand that you have to find a way to keep improving as a team so you can go win ballgames.”

Lastly, can you speak about the state of the team?

“You look at the amount of guys we have gone, playing 16 true freshmen last year and only playing about seven seniors this season. Let’s look in the league and find the ones who are playing well. There are guys making plays. You have to find guys in critical situations. I’ve always said great players make great plays, good players make good plays, average players make average plays and bad players make bad plays. Our job as coaches is to make bad better, good better, average better and great better. On both defense and offense, how do you mix it and tweak it going into a season. Over the last two weeks, I thought it made a big difference that Texas and Oklahoma State had off weeks. When you get two weeks, you go in and examine what you do and you change it up. When you get four days to change it, it’s one thing. It’s another thing to have two weeks to look at it and decide how you want to attack people and how you want to do things. You can go down the list. All of it doesn’t matter, though, when it all comes down to it because my job is to make sure we win by one point and score one more point.” 

Coming off a home defeat the TCU Horned Frogs under Gary Patterson are 27-9. Overall with the home cooking with Coach Patterson TCU is 61-12 overall with 31 wins in their last 37 games at Amon Carter Stadium.