WVUIE97: Just like most teams in the Big 12 (especially WVU) this season, TCU has had some quarterback issues. After talking to you on the podcast, it's clear you're behind Pachall as the better passer of the two. Assuming he's completely healthy, does he play the whole game this Saturday or will we see Boykin for a few series? If so, how much do you expect him to play?
HawkeyedFrog: I wish I knew myself. Boykin got the start against Texas despite Pachall being cleared to play, but wasn't given a chance to try any of the quarterback runs that he thrives with and Texas has struggled so poorly with before he was pulled in favor of Casey. I think Boykin will see the field, as he's been included as a receiver even when Pachall is at quarterback, but Pachall will start and get the vast majority of the snaps. I'd personally be surprised if he comes in as anything other than a wildcat quarterback against the Mountaineers, but the offense this year has done nothing but surprise me (in a bad way) so take it with a grain of salt.
WVUIE97: Our defensive struggles have been well documented. Do you look at what we've struggled with and get excited with the possibility of what TCU could do against us?
HawkeyedFrog: I don't get excited any more, that was a different man from a different era- an era where a team could get a first down in the first half. Still, I'm happy that Casey is back, as his presence combined with the West Virginia secondary may give TCU a chance to actually score some points this time out. Still the Oliver Twist mentality lingers on- when you've been scolded so severely and so often for asking for more (running plays, points, competence) you learn to just accept what fate is giving you. My psych professor at university calls it "Learned Helplessness", I call it the TCU offense.
WVUIE97: During the preseason, some media outlets were of the opinion that TCU could compete for the Big 12 title this season. Obviously, that hasn't been the case. Was there much sentiment among the fanbase expecting a Big 12 run this season? How disappointing has this season been for the Frog fans?
HawkeyedFrog: Oh, I was the driver of that bandwagon. Waymon James, who had averaged almost 10 ypc last year before a knee injury forced him out, was returning. Casey Pachall, the NCAA career passing efficiency leader (at that point), was returning. 9 of 11 starters from the Big 12's best defense were returning, including all-American cornerback Jason Verrett. Reigning Big 12 defensive player of the Year Devonte Fields was going to have another year of strength and experience, and best of all, kickoff/punt muffing machine Skye Dawson was not returning. On paper it looked like the best team in the conference, and possibly one of the top teams in the nation. Then our starting tackle Tayo Fabuluje quit during fall practice. Then TCU's offensive season started with a fumbled kickoff return, making the defense spent almost the entire first half on the field. Waymon James didn't get nearly enough carries. Then Casey broke his arm and Trevone Boykin was pressed into service, only for the coordinators to ignore what Boykin was good at (the zone read and option game) and press him into throwing the ball down field. I can keep going with my Jake Blues-esque rant of what went wrong, but I think we can leave it at that. TCU fans are very, very disappointed and disillusioned with this season, and for good reason.
WVUIE97: WVU has taken its fair share of lumps in the Big 12 so far, especially in football. Many in our fanbase chalk that up to playing in a "Big Boy" conference and there's no real weeks off. I don't mean to harp on this subject, but how have your fans handled the transition and struggles of the Frogs so far?
HawkeyedFrog: By making humorous posts to try and stop the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Yes, TCU's schedule has been an absolute grind so far, but it isn't always like that at first (people ask why I don't think Baylor will go undefeated- I say look at the rest of their schedule- Oklahoma, Tech, @ Oklahoma State, @ TCU and Texas all in a row). I think the Big 12 as it is now is designed to beat the hell out of every team, which is something that worked against the Pac-10 in their round robin days as well, so I'm hoping that in the future there will be expansion. Still, as things are there are some fans who are dealing with the transition well and some who are deep in depression and wishing we were back in the Mountain West. Personally, I think that with the playcalling we've seen so far we'd be getting killed in the Mountain West as well, so we might as well be playing the teams we've been pining to play since the SWC broke up.
WVUIE97: Patterson's defense has always had a reputation as being stout. Is this year's edition up to par? Who should we be aware of on that side of the ball?
HawkeyedFrog: The most heartbreaking part of this year's TCU team is the defense, because they may actually be the best we've ever had. We have solid defensive ends, great defensive tackles in Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson who can both stuff the run and rush the passer and a secondary that matches up well with even the most electric offenses. Yet every week they spend 3/4s of the game on the field and end up run ragged because the offense throws the ball repeatedly to one three and out after another, and they end up breaking- either out of frustration or exhaustion. Still, West Virginia will have to be careful throwing the ball against likely first round draft choice Jason Verrett and turnover forcing machine Elisha Olabode, as the Frogs defense sure hasn't given up on the year yet- they're just waiting on an offense that has realized the year has started.
WVUIE97: Tell me how you see Saturday's game playing out and what TCU has to do in order to come out with a victory?
HawkeyedFrog: I really don't know how to think Casey is going to perform this week, as he was clearly not in sync with his receivers last week, despite delivering the ball on target time and again. With a week of practice I'd like to believe that would improve, but then again I would have liked to believe a lot of things about this offense. Still, with West Virginia's secondary issues and my belief in the TCU defense I think that the Frogs can win this game if they can get an early lead and force West Virginia to throw the ball to catch up. Of course, that's easier said than done this year, and I'm predicting that like last year it will be a very close game, but unlike last year it will be a very low scoring game. I'll take the Frogs because they're at home, but I have no confidence in that pick. Give me TCU 16, West Virginia 13.
Thanks to HawkeyedFrog for playing along and giving us some more insight into the Horned Frogs. You can see more of his work and others covering TCU over at Frogs O'War.