Date: November 29th, 2019
Time: 4:30pm EST
Venue: Amon G. Carter Stadium - Fort Worth, TX
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN
Streaming: ESPN app
Radio: Click HERE for a complete list of radio affiliates in West Virginia. If you live outside of the state, or don’t live close enough to a radio affiliate, you can listen to the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG on TuneIn Radio.
Spread: West Virginia +13.5
It's not exactly clear to me what they've done to be 2-TD favorites, but the over/under makes sense considering the quality of the defenses.
KNOW THE ENEMY
Series History: (4-4). Last year's revenge beat down aside, it still feels like the Frogs have come away with one or two more W's against us than they deserved. It would be a delightful end to our year to snatch one back as the road dogs.
2019 Record: (5-6). TCU's season has been a relatively unspectacular one, in that they've generally beaten the teams you'd expect them to beat and lost to the teams you'd expect them to lose to. One thing to note though, is that every game since early October has been decided by 10 points or less - this could easily be an 8-win football team with a few lucky bounces.
Head Coach: Gary Patterson. Like Gundy last week, Patterson is firmly planted in that second tier of college football coaching royalty. He's in his 19th year at TCU, making him the second longest tenured coach in America, and his .726 winning percentage ranks 4th among active coaches.
Offensive Coordinator: Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper. Both Cumbie and Luper have been on staff since 2013. Cumbie has been in his current role the entire time, while Luper got promoted to co-OC in 2017.
Defensive Coordinator: Chad Glasgow. Glasgow should be nearly as familiar as Patterson at this point - he's been on staff for all but one of Patterson's 19 seasons in charge and has been in his current role as DC since 2014.
WHEN WE HAVE THE BALL...
WVU players to watch: QB Jarret Doege, RB Kennedy McKoy, RB Leddie Brown, WR Sam James, WR George Campbell, WR Ali Jennings
TCU players to watch: LB Garrett Wallow, FS Trevon Moehrig, S Vernon Scott, DT Ross Blacklock
The Frogs defense has been the defining constant of the Gary Patterson era, shining strong even as their offenses wax and wane. They're not causing quite as much havoc this year as they have in years passed (8th in the Big 12 in TFL and forced fumbles, 4th in passes defended), but they're still the best team in the league at limiting explosive plays and forcing 3-and-outs.
A big part of that success is due to their talented secondary. Led by seniors Jeff Gladney, Julius Lewis, Innis Gaines, and Scott Vernon, the Frogs rank top 15 nationally in interceptions and top 10 in explosive passing plays allowed, and that stability allows the other six guys to play worry-free football in the box. The best of that bunch is again Garrett Wallow, who's having a great senior year and averaging over 10 tackles per game from his middle linebacker position. The front four is inexperienced but seems as talented as you'd expect. Ross Blacklock has been particularly productive from his 3-technique spot with 9 TFL and 3.5 sacks.
Defining success: Any kind of push up front would be great
We're at the point now where we have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that no team in school history has run the ball worse than this 2019 edition. We rank 129th out of 130 teams nationally in yards per game, 128th in yards per carry, and 128th in explosive yards per game, and just writing that sentence makes me want to drink bleach. TCU's defense is simply too good to expect any kind of sustained success if we can't do better than that.
WHEN THEY HAVE THE BALL...
WVU players to watch: DT Dante Stills, NT Darius Stills, LB Josh Chandler, S Sean Mahone, S Kerry Martin Jr, S Tykee Smith
TCU players to watch: QB Max Duggan, RB Darius Anderson, RB Sewo Olonilua, WR Jalen Raegor
The Horned Frog offense opened conference play with a bang, racking up 625 yards in a 51-14 thrashing of Kansas, but has topped 400 yards in just three of their six games since. They're very much the same run-heavy spread attack that they've been since the tandem of Anderson and Olonilua broke into the lineup two years ago, and they're actually better than ever in terms of yards per carry, yards per game, and explosive runs per game.
Much of that improvement is due to the emergence of freshman QB Max Duggan, who's easily the best runner that they've had at the position since Trevone Boykin. Like Boykin, Duggan excels both on designed runs and as a scrambler, where he does a great job keeping his eyes downfield until the last possible moment. His consistency as a thrower has left a bit to be desired at times - he's completing just 55% of his passes for 6.4 ypa - but he's also had spurts where he's flashed the ability to make quick decisions and deliver the ball accurately.
The rest of the skill guys will be mostly familiar. The aforementioned Anderson and Olonilua are again a rock solid thunder/lightning combo - Anderson is the workhorse while Olonilua gets most of the short yardage work. It's important to note that the pair have combined to catch 43 balls this year. Out wide the primary target is again Jalen Raegor, though sophomores Taye Barber and Te'Vailance Hunt and tight end Pro Wells have emerged viable weapons, as well.
Defining success: Box in Duggan
TCU wants to run the ball, so our priority has to be stopping it, and especially stopping Duggan from killing us the way he’s been killing teams for the last two months. When they're able to get him going it opens the defense up to splash plays down the field to Raegor and Wells. We can't let that happen.
Special teams priority is to not let Jalen Raegor score any touchdowns. He's been the most dangerous return man in the conference since he burst onto the scene two years ago and has already housed one punt this year. Our special teams have actually been very good so far this year, but we need to finish strong on Raegor tomorrow.
I haven't seen anything from our offense to make me think we're capable of putting up big numbers against TCU, so our best bet for getting out of there with a W is to keep the scores low and win in the margins. If we can keep the turnovers to a minimum and win the field position battle, I like our chances to be in it at the end, and at some point you figure we have to start learning how to seal those deals.
West Virginia 20-16 TCU