Game Preview: WVU vs. TCU
Series: Tied 1-1
Last meeting: 2012: WVU 38, TCU 39 F
Television: 3:30 p.m., ESPNU (Anish Shroff - play-by-play, Dan Hawkins - analysis)
Line: +14 West Virginia
West Virginia (3-5, 1-4) will pay its first ever visit to Forth Worth this weekend when the Mountaineers take on a TCU (3-5, 1-4) team in a match up of two teams looking to secure a much needed win for bowl eligibility.
Both teams joined the conference in 2012 and both have been on a similar trajectory during their time in the league. Last season, the two teams played a double overtime game 39-38 won by TCU in Morgantown.
The Horned Frogs are led by head coach Gary Patterson, who's in his 13th year atop the football program. Patterson has compiled a 119-41 record in his tenure as the all-time winningest coach in school history.
Patterson has led TCU to new heights finishing in the top ten four times in the past eight years including two appearances in BCS bowls in the Fiesta and Rose, while leading the Horned Frogs to 10-wins on eight different occasions over the past decade.
However, much like West Virginia the Horned Frogs have been dealing with the adjustment to the Big 12 Conference after finishing 7-6 last season and starting this year 3-5.
"They are like us. They are 3-5 and have been ahead, but can't find a way to finish a ball game," Patterson said. "Their skill guys are pretty good. I think the key for them is that they are getting set at quarterback and on defense they have been very physical."
The Horned Frogs have used two quarterbacks this season with Trevone Boykin filling in for most of the season while senior Casey Pachall recovered from a broken arm. Both quarterbacks saw time last week and Pachall saw more snaps during the course of the game and it is widely expected he will start.
"Having to sit out these weeks I think gave him a whole new perspective and got a look at what a coach does and compare it to like what a player sees," Patterson said. "It's a big difference and it's where you need to get to if you want to own the system and obviously we need to do a lot better. In this league, scoring seven points is not going to win you any ballgames."
At the skill positions, the Horned Frogs feature a stable of running backs led by B.J. Catalon with 366 yards and 5 touchdowns. LaDarius Brown (23, 216 and 1 score) and Brandon Carter (17, 197) are the team's leading receivers.
But Patterson has become known for defense during his tenure and this year is no different. The Horned Frogs boast one of the most skilled and experienced secondaries in the Big 12 Conference and lead the conference in both sacks (24) and interceptions (15). Prior to the Texas game, he Horned Frogs had not given up over 24-points in their last six tries.
When you think about TCU, it's all about defense, they are really good on defense. They have a lot of returning starters. All five guys from the secondary last year are returning starters. They have as good of a secondary as there is in college football," Holgorsen said.
"I was very impressed with them last year and this year I'm even more impressed with them. This year I think they have nine returning starters on defense. They're very well-coached on defense and that staff has been together for a while," he added.
The secondary features cornerback Jason Verrett, while even without Big 12 Conference freshman of the year defensive end Devonte Fields the Horned Frogs defense has been a force for opposing offenses.
This will be the third match up between the two teams, with the first coming in the 1984 Blue Bonnet Bowl, a 31-14 West Virginia win, and last season's double overtime win for the Horned Frogs. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has matched up twice with TCU as an assistant coach at Texas Tech, going 1-1 in those contests, including most recently falling 12-3 in 2006.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
West Virginia Depth Chart:
QB - 9 Clint Trickett (r-Jr), 14 Paul Millard (Jr), 7 Ford Childress (r-Fr)
RB (A) - 3 Charles Sims (r-Sr), 4 Wendell Smallwood (Fr), 2 Dreamius Smith (Jr), 29 Dustin Garrison (Jr)
FB (B) - 88 Cody Clay (r-So), 42 Garrett Hope (So)
WR (X) - 12 Ronald Carswell (r-So), 5 Mario Alford (Jr)
WR (Z) - 85 Ivan McCartney (Sr.), 11 Kevin White (Jr)
IR (Y) - 6 Daikiel Shorts (Fr), 10 Jordan Thompson (So)
LT - 79 Nick Kindler (r-Sr), 63 Mike Calicchio (r-Jr)
LG - 67 Quinton Spain (r-Jr), 78 Marquis Lucas (r-So)
C - 76 Pat Eger (r-Sr), 65 Tyler Orlosky (r-Fr)
RG - 64 Mark Glowinski (r-Jr), 78 Marquis Lucas (r-So)
RT - 62 Curtis Feigt (r-Sr), 57 Adam Pankey (r-Fr)
DT - 98 Will Clarke (r-Sr), 97 Noble Nwachukwu (r-Fr)
NT - 90 Shaq Rowell (r-Sr), 93 Kyle Rose (r-So)
DE - 99 Dontrill Hyman (Jr), 45 Eric Kinsey (So)
BUCK - 2 Brandon Golson (Jr), 18 Marvin Gross (Fr)
SPUR - 31 Isaiah Bruce (r-So), 30 Justin Arndt (r-Fr)
WILL - 33 Jared Barber (Jr), 53 Tyler Anderson(r-Sr)
SAM - 35 Nick Kwiatkoski (r-So), 11 Sean Walters (r-Fr)
FCB - 34 Ishmael Banks (r-Jr), 20 Brandon Napoleon (r-Fr)
FS - 8 Karl Joseph (So), 9 K.J. Dillon (So.)
BS - 25 Darwin Cook (r-Sr), 41 Ricky Rumph (So)
BCB - 7 Daryl Worley (Fr), 26 Travis Bell (r-Jr)
PK - 86 Josh Lambert (r-Fr)
P - 91 Nick O'Toole (So)
KO - 48 Michael Molinari (r-Jr)
LS -87 John DePalma (So)
H - 48 Michael Molinari (r-Jr)
PR - 12 Ronald Carswell (So), 10 Jordan Thompson (So)
KR - 7 Daryl Worley (Fr), 4 Wendell Smallwood (Fr)
Sixteen Mountaineers earned their first career starts this season with Mario Alford (WR), Ronald Carswell (WR), Ford Childress (QB), Mark Glowinski (RG), Brandon Golson (BUCK), Marquis Lucas (LG), Paul Millard (QB), KJ Myers (WR), Tyler Orlosky (C), WR Daikiel Shorts (WR), Charles Sims (RB), Dreamius Smith (RB), Clint Trickett (QB), Daryl Worley (CB), Josh Lambert (K), Nick O'Toole (P).
True freshmen that have played include: Marvin Gross (LB), Darrien Howard (DL), Carlton Nash (CB), Wendell Smallwood (RB), Daikiel Shorts (WR), Jeremy Tyler (S) and Daryl Worley (CB).
In total, 31 Mountaineers saw their first game action this season including Mario Alford (WR), Justin Arndt (LB), Michael Calicchio (OL), Ronald Carswell (WR), Ford Childress (QB), James Gayeski (DL), Brandon Golson (BUCK), Mark Glowinski (RG), Jarrod Harper (S), Darrien Howard (DL), Dontrill Hyman (DE), Josh Lambert (K), Devonte Mathis (WR), Logan Moore (WR), Carlton Nash (CB), Brandon Napoleon (CB), Noble Nwachukwu (DE), Tyler Orlosky (C), Nick O'Toole (P), Adam Pankey (OL) Daikiel Shorts (WR), Charles Sims (RB), Wendell Smallwood (RB), Dreamius Smith (RB), Clint Trickett (QB), Jeremy Tyler (S), Sean Walters (LB), Kevin White (WR), Daryl Worley (CB) and Maurice Zereoue (RB).
Injuries: Several players are considered day to day, Daryl Worley (shin), Dontrill Hyman (ankle), Doug Rigg (concussion), Ricky Rumph (foot) and Pat Eger. Junior running back Dustin Garrison has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Redshirt freshman Ford Childress remains out with a torn pectoral muscle. Redshirt junior Wes Tonkery will be out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder surgery. Sophomore Christian Brown is out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury and will receive a medical redshirt. Redshirt senior and back up BUCK linebacker Dozie Ezemma broke his lower leg and foot against William & Mary and will miss the remainder of the season. West Virginia also will be without junior linebacker Shaq Petteway who will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Sophomore cornerback Nana Kyeremeh also will miss the entirety of the season with a shoulder injury.
Redshirts: Players that will be redshirting this season include: junior running back Andrew Buie, sophomore defensive lineman Christian Brown, junior linebacker Shaq Petteway, sophomore running back Rushel Shell, junior offensive lineman Stone Underwood, freshman wide receiver Shelton Gibson, freshmen linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, freshman fullback Elijah Wellman, freshman safety Isaac McDonald, freshman wide receiver Jacky Marcellus, freshman linebacker Hodari Christian, freshman safety Malik Greaves, freshman offensive lineman Marcell Lazard, freshman offensive lineman Tyler Tezeno and freshman offensive lineman Grant Lingafelter.
Points to click:
* Keep everything in front of you: Defensively the Mountaineers are going to have to start playing like they did earlier in the season. Forcing opposing offenses to drive the length of the field and earn every yard rather than getting burned by a vertical passing attack. Fortunately for West Virginia, TCU has had their own struggles on offense this season and haven't been able to stretch the field to keep defenses from loading the box against the run.
If the Mountaineers want to leave Fort Worth with a win they will need to take away any intermediate or deep passes from quarterback Casey Pachall and make Texas Christian have long, sustained drives if they want to put any points on the score board.
* Feed Charles Sims: It's apparent that the WVU passing attack isn't going to continue to try and attack defenses with any specific wide receivers, its Charles Sims who is going to need to touch the ball 25 plus times for the Mountaineer offense to get rolling. If the offense can build some momentum and confidence on the back of Sims then it should open some opportunities for others to step in and make some big plays, especially in the passing game. Last week against Kansas State, West Virginia was able to stay in the game by keeping Sims the focal point of the offense. Once they went away from him you started to notice the offense struggling to put drives together.
* Forget about the past: What is done is done. Today is a new day and the Mountaineers are going to need to attack this weekend's game as if the season has just begun. In no way are we saying that West Virginia shouldn't play with some type of urgency as a bowl berth may very well be in line but rather play within itself and don't play with the burden of what has become a disappointing season.
* Play smart. Heading on the road West Virginia will need to keep from turning the ball over and keep their defense out of bad situations by stringing together some positive drives. The TCU defense isn't going to make things easy but the Mountaineers must be prepared to make plays and play smart doing it.