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2021 Opponent Preview: A Preseason Look at TCU

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 TCU at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Series Record: 6-4, good guys. This was a back-and-forth series for a while but WVU has handled the Horned Frogs the last 3 years.

Last Meeting: 24-6. The most complete game of the 2020 season and really the most complete game of the Neal Brown era. You could argue this is what Neal Brown wants to do every single week. Run for 150 with your work-horse tailback. Throw for 200 and 2 scores with your veteran quarterback. Dominating, suffocating defense that doesn’t allow the other team to even breathe.

Opponent Record 2020: 6-4. Give Patterson and TCU their two OOC games and they likely go 8-4 last year, which has been on pace with Patterson’s career at TCU - .706 winning pct and 8.4 wins per year. The Frogs struggled out of the gate, going 1-3 to start the season. Darwin Barlow picked up his production and helped take some pressure off QB Max Duggan as the Frogs won 5 of their last 6 before a COVID outbreak ended their season before their bowl game with Arkansas.

2021 Outlook

Max Duggan hasn’t been the breakout candidate that many TCU fans thought they were getting in a four-star recruit but he does bring danger both on the ground and in the air and has the most “big-play runs” from any returning Big 12 quarterback. Duggan is back for his third year and TCU fans hope a “normal” offseason will see the jump they need to take the team to the next level.

Duggan is going to be joined on the ground by former five-star running back Zach Evans who did average 7.7 yards per carry last year in limited action. Against the Mountaineers last year, he was grounded for 17 yards on 4 carries. Evans will need to take over the loss of Darwin Barlow who transferred to USC.

Still, for TCU, its going to come down to their offensive line. Teams that can’t block the defense can’t perform and that has been the case with TCU as Duggan and his running backs have struggled to get going because the defense is in their face - constantly. If Memphis transfer Obinna Eze shores up the offensive line, the Horned Frogs should be more explosive offensively.

TCU has made its calling on the defensive side of the ball, often being the “one team that plays defense in the offensive-minded Big 12” (pundits words, not mine). TCU lost their best linebacker Garret Willow to the NFL but will hope that Dee Winters is ready to take his place. Winters looks the part - 65 tackles, 9.5 TFL last season. Winters will be anchored by young but talented edge rushers in Ochaun Mathis and Khari Coleman. The pair totaled 29 TFL last season, ranking 2nd and 3rd in the Big 12.

In the secondary is where TCU may struggle as they lost two of the higher graded safeties to the NFL. One of those replacements is former Horned Frogs RB LaDainian Tomlinson’s nephew, Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson who finished second nationally with 13 pass breakups.

Game Outlook

This was the most complete game by Neal Brown and the Mountaineers last year and that game was in Fort Worth. This year, both teams return a bevy of talent and I would expect a close game as most of these games in this series have been. ESPN currently gives the Horned Frogs a 70-30 edge in this game and that doesn’t feel right. This game feels like a toss-up to me. I can see TCU winning but wouldn’t be surprised if WVU comes out ahead.