Melissa from Frogs O' War was kind enough to answer some questions about the 'Eers and Frogs. Let's get started, shall we?
Matt: In a paragraph or two, describe what has defined TCU's season thus far.
Melissa: If I had to define the Frogs's season in one word, I would go with resiliency. If you're going to give me a couple paragraphs, I'm going to weave you a bit of a yarn. Back in the summer, I had a chance to attend Big XII Media Days, which was one of the coolest experiences of my life. When Gary Patterson stepped up to the podium, he talked about how the 2014 season was built around the mantra "Prove Them Wrong", but heading in to 2015, as a preseason #2 and conference title favorite, they were adopting the attitude of "Prove Them Right". Welp, fast forward a few weeks and GP's D had lost both starting linebackers, their best defensive lineman, their best corner, and a host of other talented players. While the offense has been as good as advertised - arguably BETTER - the D has looked at times like a sieve. While the numbers don't tell the whole story, it's clear that injuries have taken a toll and players playing out of position have been exploited at times. All of that, combined with a couple miracle escapes on the road and a few less than overwhelming wins in and out of conference, and TCU is right back to needing to Prove Them Wrong, again.
Ultimately, what the Frogs have is the best QB in the country, one of the two best wide receivers, one great player in the secondary (Derrick Kindred), a pretty salty offensive line, a pretty good defensive line, and a bunch of kids who are going to be stars in a year or two on the defensive side of the ball, but are playing like freshmen in the meantime. For now, this is a team that is going to try and outscore you, wear you down, and hope you make the big mistake first. With wildcards like KaVontae Turpin and a fairly balanced running attack, that has been working. But as you all know - having just run the gauntlet we are about to face - it isn't getting any easier, schedule wise.
Matt: Despite all of our recent struggles, WVU does still have a good bit of talent, especially at receiver. How has TCU stacked up in the secondary so far?
Melissa: Well, the bad news for TCU is that we are playing seven guys in the secondary, with two linebackers that started fall camp as safeties. The good news is, we are playing seven guys in the secondary. It's bad when you play K State or Iowa State or teams that want to power run it down your throat; it's almost effective when you play teams with smaller backs and receivers. I think TCU can matchup with WVU's receivers - Nick Orr and Derrick Kindred have been good to great, Denzel Johnson has been more than competent, and Travin Howard and Montrel Wilson do not look like rookie safeties playing linebacker (which they are). BUT... and this is a BIG but... you could benefit from something Eers fans should be awfully familiar with - the PI flag. Holgo was masterful in taking advantage of BU's physical play a year ago, and turning a yellow hanky parade in to an upset win. TCU, and especially Corry O'Meally at corner, have had a litany of pass interference calls against them. Don't be shocked when watching the game if you hear the entire stadium, in unison, yell "TURN AROUND" any time the ball is in the air for more than 15 yards.
So far, the D is giving up about 225 yards per game through the air, on over 12 yards a completion. Those aren't terrible numbers, but they aren't exactly good, either. Where they have been good is when the field gets smaller, and the two linebackers can put their coverage skills on display - only six passing touchdowns allowed in seven games. It's really been the ground game that has been the achilles heel for the Frogs... Wendell Smallwood could have himself a big game, if WVU can hang with the Frogs early.
Matt: Going of the track a bit, but I'm curious about your thoughts on Trevone Boykin, NFL Quarterback. Does he have a shot or will he be taking the WR route?
Melissa: That's a really great question, and one that TCU fans are probably almost as curious about as NFL Scouts... of which a rumored 19 will be in attendance Thursday night. The easy answer is no; college quarterbacks like Trevone Boykin just don't get the chance to be pro gunslingers. But, I don't think it's that simple. Boykin has good enough size at over 6'2", he is really well built - bottom heavy with exceptional balance, great footwork in the pocket, and a brain that processes information almost as fast as his feet. I don't think enough people appreciate his touch - he has always had a cannon for an arm and an incredible feel on the deep ball, but it's his ability to take something off of the ball on the short and intermediate routes that have been a difference maker in 2015. It's cliche to say, but Tre can make all the throws. I think he is a second or third round talent as an athlete, but if he tries to go at QB, he could fall to the fifth or sixth round just because NFL guys tend to get scared off guys like him not named Johnny Manziel (and how did that work out?). The difference for Boykin this year, though, is that he's not a guy running to throw - he's a guy sitting back in the pocket, using his feet to create a passing lane, and taking off only when that is THE best option for his team. He's matured a TON in the pocket. He will kill it at the combine, no doubt, but it will be his individual work and what he does on the chalkboard that will sell him as a QB prospect, in my opinion.
Matt: Anyone outside of the household names that WVU fans should be watching for on Thursday?
Melissa: Let me tell you about my absolute favorite player on offense (not named Boykin or Doctson) - diminutive true freshman KaVontae Turpin. At 5'9" (maybe) and 152 pounds (soaking wet), he doesn't look like much, but put him in pads and he is one of the most explosive players in the nation. Punt returns, kick returns, running plays, and as a receiver, this kid is dynamite with the ball in his hands - and he will get somewhere between 10-15 touches if things go right. Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham are still figuring out how to best use him on offense, but if you get him in space and let him run, you aren't going to catch him. As the kids say, he fast. The last time we saw him in Amon G Carter, he was torching Texas to the tune of four touchdowns. He was banged up against Kansas State and didn't play against the Cyclones, but all signs point to him suiting up tomorrow night. He is the ultimate X-factor for the Frogs.
Other than #TurpinTime, Desmon White is another smallish receiver who has filled the Deante' Gray role at wide receiver (Gray is out for the season, because of course he is), Kolby Listenbee - who might be football's fastest man - Mike Tuaua on the defensive line - who seems to always be around the ball making plays - and the aforementioned Howard and Wilson at linebacker - who lead the team in tackles. But, let's be honest, it's criminal that I have gotten to this point and not talked about Josh Doctson; he's a household name, but he is the guy that makes this offense tick, and if things are going according to plan, you're going to hear his name ALOT when the Frogs have the ball.
Matt: I'd normally ask how you think this game shakes out but I think we all know where that will go. So who's cooler, LT or Josh Doctson?
Melissa: Oh man... that's tough. I love Doc. He has an incredible story; mom works for TCU so he grew up in the shadows of the stadium and running the field as a "Bleacher Creature" - the little kids that run end zone to end zone before kickoff, or, for context, what Baylor has their college aged freshmen do pregame (zing). After not getting much in the way of D1 offers, including radio silence from TCU (whoops), Josh matriculated to Wyoming. After his grandfather, whom he was very close to, fell ill and eventually passed away, Josh wanted to be close to home. He walked on to TCU, earned a scholarship a year later, burst on to the scene in 2014, and has become one of, if not the, best in the country this year. And, by all accounts, he is the nicest kid in the world. LT's story wasn't much different - he came out of Waco, chose a then terrible TCU program and their then dead man walking coach, stuck it out behind a couple of pretty decent running backs until he earned the starting role, then became the best running back in TCU history, a college hall of famer, a surefire pro hall of famer, and one of the best ever at the position in the NFL. I have had the privilege of meeting Josh a time or two, but I was in class with LT. It's close... but I am going with the guy that used to borrow my pens in media studies, LT - I mean, his wife drives a purple Range Rover; what's cooler than that?
Matt: *Bonus* Who would win in a race between Sonic the Hedgehog and The Flash?
Melissa: Sonic. I mean, seriously, it's not even close. As long as he isn't having to wait on Tails that is; that dude was dead weight. Now, who wins between Turpin, Kolby Listenbee, and Sonic? That's an interesting one, but one of football's fastest guys runs away with it; Listenbee FTW.