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TCU vs West Virginia: Keys To The Game

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TCU will attempt to be the first team to hold serve at home in the Big XII series between the Frogs and the Mountaineers on Thursday night. Here are some keys they need to focus on to make that happen.

Superfrog supporting the Frogs in Morgantown, the only venue in which the Frogs have defeated the Mountaineers
Superfrog supporting the Frogs in Morgantown, the only venue in which the Frogs have defeated the Mountaineers
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of Baylor and Tech, this has been my favorite series that TCU has been a part of since joining the Big XII.  That first conference match up between the Frogs and the Mountaineers is one of my favorite games I've ever watched.  Boykin tied us up with that miracle 94-yard touchdown with 1:28 left in the fourth.  In the first overtime all West Virginia needed was a field goal to win it and Jason Verrett blocked the kick.  Then, we went for two and the win in the second overtime and got it.  What a roller coaster.  Since then, every game these two teams have played has been a roller coaster, and that's exactly what we hope to avoid this year.  It's been mentioned a lot this week, but the home team has never won in the history of this series.  Here's what the Frogs need to do in order to break the pattern this Thursday:

1. Don't Overlook This 3-3 Team

I know that Patterson has been drilling this into them all week.  Yes, they have had some really close calls on the road and they probably won't make the mistake of looking past a Big XII opponent on the road again this season.  What scares me is that this team was so dominant last time they played at home, that they will just expect to play that way again.

Honestly, that's fine. I hope they expect to play that way every game, as long as they have prepared in a manner that will allow them to live up to those expectations. West Virgina, despite being 3-3, is a good team. The three teams they have lost to are a combined 20-1. If they take it for granted that they are going to smoke this team just because they're at The Carter, then I'm worried.

2. Be Physical And Attack On Both Sides Of The Ball

In Patterson's presser on Tuesday, he mentioned how physical West Virginia is at the point of attack.

TCU has the size on both lines to match that physicality, but they are going to have to bring it. Especially on the defensive side. Now that we finally have our defensive line healthy again, we need to start getting more pressure on the quarterback.  TCU's struggles in the secondary have been hard to miss, but it all gets a lot easier when you pressure the QB and don't allow them to throw those jump balls down the field whenever they want to.  Patterson also noted in the press conference that he expects freshman Joseph Broadnax to see more playing time this week.  At 6'0", 305 lbs, he has the tools to make a difference.

3. Remind Holgorsen That Boykin Is The Best Player In College Football

At this point, Boykin just needs to be Boykin.  Jamie did a great article earlier this week on just how amazing Boykin's season has been.  Hes outpacing all four of the previous Heisman winning quarterbacks to this point in the season in almost every single category.  Last week, after losing to Baylor in Waco, Holgorsen made the comment that Corey Coleman is the best player in college football.  I understand Dana, I get it.  It's part availability bias and part "I'm going to save face by saying that the guy who just had 200 yards and three TDs against my team is the best out there".  Of course, we all know that while Coleman is an elite talent, he's still only the second best wide receiver in college football.  I don't know what Boykin is going to do on Thursday. That's part of what makes it fun. But, I'm confident that Boykin will leave Holgorsen having second thoughts about his bold proclamation.

4. No Slow Starts on Defense

We saw against Texas just how quickly our offense can take control of a game if the defense can just get a few stops and or a turnover early. With Listenbee and Turpin back we have all of the tools available to strike quickly and often. Not only that, but in addition to losing star safety Karl Joseph, West Virgina will also be without secondary players Terrell Chestnut and Ricky Rumph in Fort Worth on Thursday. Against Minnesota earlier this year, the Golphers drove the length of the field with less than five minutes left to make it a one score game. Afterwards, Patterson said that had the defense been more experienced, he would have called that drive a lot differently. In Tuesday's press conference Patterson said that he called just about everything we have against Iowa State in our last game. Given the success we saw the the second half of the last two games, we may have gotten to the point experience wise where this thing can actually look like a TCU defense. Especially in the run game, this defense has shown that they are easily pulled out of position when we play base defense. Maybe the bye week has given us time to fix some of these issues. Or, maybe it's just time to get a little more creative and just let Patterson outsmart people with his playcalling.