At the beginning of today’s broadcast of West Virginia’s home matchup with the TCU Horned Frogs, announcer DeMarco Murray told fans that Will Grier and David Sills were the “most dynamic duo in college football,” proclaiming that the two “have their own secret language.” It took three tries today, but Sills and Grier did connect on yet another touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers smothered the Horned Frogs. With their 47-10 win, West Virginia completed a Texan sweep.
By the end of the first quarter, the developing game script did not favor the Mountaineers. In a defensive battle, TCU held serve, up 3-0. This was the first time West Virginia had been shut out in the first quarter. TCU converted half of its critical downs in the frame.
The Horned Frogs’ defense answered each move the Mountaineers’ offense made. As a result, Grier could not establish a rhythm. The Mountaineers had a total of four rushing yards. The offense looked as anemic as it did during the second half of the Iowa State game. And TCU had a clock-milking 65-yard drive in its first series of the quarter.
Turning the Corner
To open the second frame, Evan Staley hit a 47-yard field goal that bounced off the left upright and over the center of the crossbar. Over the next several series, the Mountaineers developed more and more aspects of the offense. The running game started to click. Grier connected on a few short passes. The defense forced three straight punts. Finally, the Mountaineers broke into the end zone on a Kennedy McKoy scamper with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
The Mountaineers then showed their quick strike ability after forcing a turnover to set up a 1-yard Martell Pettaway touchdown run. The defense then forced a three-and-out, and West Virginia closed the half with a four-play 64-yard drive spanning only 38 seconds and ending in a Trevon Wesco touchdown. In the span of five minutes, the Mountaineers broke the game open, taking a 24-3 lead into the locker room.
Keeping the Pedal Down
West Virginia kept its foot on the pedal to begin the second half. TCU’s first drive resulted in a safety, caused by relentless pressure from Jovanni Stewart and Dante Stills. Both Stewart and Stills, by the way, played the best games of their respective careers.
The Mountaineers then hit quickly on a five-play, 80-yard drive leading to a second McKoy touchdown. The Mountaineers went up 33-3, and they never looked back. After the first offensive drive of the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers went up 47-10. The Mountaineers’ 37-point win was the most lopsided defeat for TCU since a 35-point loss to Texas Tech back in 2004.
Late in the fourth quarter, Murray commented during the broadcast that he was impressed at how Tony Gibson’s defense was still “playing with real attitude.” Keith Washington had just punched out a second straight should-be fumble that the referees waived off. During the final three quarters, in fact, the Mountaineer defense surrendered only 157 total yards and caused the Horned Frogs to lose twelve rushing yards. Real attitude is right.
The Tight Ends
Back in August, we predicted that the Mountaineers’ tight ends would “have a huge impact on the offense.” Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and Offensive Coordinator Jake Spavital were not, as it turns out, pulling a head fake when talking up their intended usage of the position. Grier himself may have even downplayed the skill set of his tight ends during the off-season.
The tight ends have dropped only one pass on the season. One. And today was a bit of a coming-out party for the group, as Wesco and Jovani Haskins combined for 105 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. On the season, Wesco and Haskins have combined for 31 receptions, 367 yards, and two touchdowns. Last season, the position (which was Wesco alone) had only 1 yard on 1 reception. And it is now safe to say their impact is being felt.
Completing the Texan Sweep
With the victory over TCU, the Mountaineers completed a sweep of the Texas-based teams in the Big XII. Against those teams, the Mountaineers have won by an average margin of 23 points. Will Grier has averaged 353 passing yards, tossed for 16 touchdowns against one interception, and completed 65% of his passes. His game last week, of course, brought Grier right back into the Heisman race. Against TCU, which fields a solid passing defense, he overcame a slow start to make another 340-yard effort look pedestrian, bolstering further his credentials as the season winds down.
Holgorsen reminded us after the game that TCU simply does not suffer such lopsided defeats. He told the media that this was a sign of just how good the team has been playing. And he is absolutely right. Now, West Virginia just has to sweep the state of Oklahoma over the next two games to punctuate it.
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