Mountaineers Return Home To Face Horned Frogs

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Mountaineers return home
Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers throws a pass in the first quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Well, that was a fun win in Austin. The victory catapulted the Mountaineers back into the top 10 in our poll (number 7), the AP poll (number 7), and the Coaches’ poll (number 8). The weekly playoff poll has yet to be released. Now, the Mountaineers return home to face the TCU Horned Frogs for a noon kickoff.  The game will be televised on FS1.

Mountaineers Return Home

TCU’s last visit to Milan Puskar Stadium ended with a 34-10 Mountaineer victory. The defense jumped all over the Frogs early, and Skyler Howard and the offense did more than enough to cement the win.

The Mountaineers have played outstanding football in Morgantown this year, winning all four games by an average score of 46-15. TCU, on the other hand, has fared poorly on the road, going 1-2 with losses to Texas and Kansas.

TCU Reeling

All told, TCU has not been a great football team this season. The offense is uncharacteristically anemic, averaging less than 27 points a game. This would be the team’s worst output since 2013 if the average holds. And while the defense has been solid overall allowing under 24 points per game, the number is buoyed somewhat by their competition. Against teams currently ranked in the top 25, TCU has surrendered 34 points per game. And against teams with possible Heisman finalists (that would be Ohio State and Oklahoma), they have surrendered 46 per game.

TCU is currently 4-5, and 2-5 in its last seven games. TCU was ranked 16th in the pre-season AP poll. Safe to say the team is falling short of its own expectations. And losing its starting quarterback, Shawn Robinson, for the rest of the season certainly does not help.

TCU Not Without Playmakers

That said, Michael Collins has performed well enough after Robinson’s injury. Against Kansas, Collins led TCU down the field quickly after the Jayhawks took a late lead, and the Horned Frogs were poised to steal the win. Collins commanded the offense well, but a Darius Anderson fumble at the goal line halted the drive and ended the game. Then, last week, Collins managed a physical game against Kansas State, throwing for 218 yards and a touchdown, and adding 22 yards on the ground over seven carries.

Both Anderson and wide-out Jalen Reagor have played well. Anderson averages over five yards per carry and is the sixth leading rusher among halfbacks in the Big 12. Reagor has amassed over 725 yards on 49 receptions. He also leads the Horned Frogs with six touchdowns. Both players are quick, and Reagor excels in space.

Defensively, the Horned Frogs have created good pressure up front, with Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier leading the way. Those two lead the team in sacks and tackles for loss. As a result, most teams have struggled to run against TCU. Most recently, the Horned Frogs bottled up Jayhawks’ standout rusher Pooka Williams for 33 yards on eleven carries.

WVU Wins Number Eight

While TCU has played well defensively against its weaker competition, the unit has surrendered big numbers to both Oklahoma and Ohio State. Against the top three quarterbacks on its schedule, in fact, TCU has surrendered over 270 yards and three touchdowns on a 70% completion rate. One of those teams, Oklahoma, actually had two 100-yard rushers, so those averages are deflated. Will Grier is better than at least two, and probably all three, of those top-flite signal callers.

Moreover, while WVU showed defensive weakness in the passing game against Texas, the same factors will not be present this weekend. WVU’s secondary actually showed solid coverage against the Longhorns. But the Longhorns feature two receivers over 6’3, including 6’4 Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who, simply, made plays even against perfect coverage. TCU’s tallest receiver in heavy rotation is the 6′ Jarrison Stewart. Its main playmakers fall well below that mark. WVU matches speed well, and TCU, as a result, will not exploit Tony Gibson‘s defense the way Texas did.

The scariest thing that can happen after a big win is a surprising loss. That said, the Mountaineers have learned that lesson once, against Iowa State. The team is relentless, and the senior leaders continue to spread the winning message that Head Coach Dana Holgorsen implemented. West Virginia takes this one from TCU in impressive fashion, 44-13.

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