Behind Enemy Lines: TCU
A popular feature on WVSports.com, we Go Behind Enemy Lines by catching up with PurpleMenace.com Publisher Billy Wessels for an on-the-ground look at West Virginia's matchup with TCU Saturday and some of the developments within the Horned Frogs football program leading up to kickoff.
1. Kenny Hill had an up and down 2016. Where has he improved this year and how much more comfortable does he appear? Is this a different player than who West Virginia saw a year ago?
Hill is a totally different player than we saw a year ago. He was humbled by his struggles last year and the offensive coaches have done everything they can to lighten his load. He's more of a game-manager now. With the defense the Frogs are playing and a trio of solid running backs, Hill doesn't have to do much besides take care of the ball. He's getting better about going through his progressions and we've seen him throw a couple passes away instead of into double or triple coverage.
2. What type of scheme does this TCU team run and how does this team want to attack opposing defenses? Where are the strengths of this unit?
Nickel and dime? Death by a thousand paper cuts? They don't need the big play anymore in the passing game. This is the biggest and most athletic offensive line TCU has ever had so they use that to their full advantage and dominate time of possession and wear down opposing defenses so speedsters like Darius Anderson, KaVontae Turpin and Kenedy Snell can expose them late in games. They will still throw it, but not many passes travel more than 15 yards in the air.
3. TCU is known for defense under Gary Patterson. Same scheme? Where are the strengths of this unit and how do they attack offenses?
This is Gary Patterson's best defense since 2014 and they are all healthy, which is the big difference from the last two years. He returned nine starters and just like the offensive line, the defensive line is the biggest he has ever had. Ben Banogu, Ross Blacklock, Chris Bradley and Mat Boesen are great about getting to opposing quarterbacks and with that pressure coming, the secondary can play with a little less pressure and force more turnovers.
4. Gameday is coming to TCU. What’s the atmosphere like and how do the Horned Frogs look at this game with West Virginia?
This will be the second time TCU has hosted Gameday and the Frogs are 5-0 all-time in games where Gameday is in attendance, the last one being at West Virginia in 2014. I expect ESPN's presence as well as it being the Frogs's first game after will lead this to being the best crowd of the year. Add that to hosting a top-25 team in West Virginia, this is shaping up to be a great game. TCU fans have nothing but respect for WVU because the games between each other have normally been pretty close and with the two joining the Big 12 at the same time.
5. Does this start surprise you from TCU? Any notable injuries or suspensions? Finally what are your keys to this game and how do you see it playing out?
I don't think this start is surprising per say. During the summer, I figured TCU would be 2-2 at this point, but after watching them play a game or two I got the feeling this has the makings of a special team. As for injuries, we are expecting starting running back Kyle Hicks back after he missed the OSU game, but TCU will be without starting center Patrick Morris for the next two games at least. The key for this game and every game is if Kenny Hill can avoid his big mistake or two and not turn the ball over. I'll take TCU winning another close one against West Virginia 34-24.