Matt Kirchner from The Smoking Musket, our fabulous sister operation covering all things West Virginia, was kind enough to answer a few questions heading into tomorrow’s massive Big 12 showdown in Funky Town. Check out his answers below and head over to TSM to get the Eers side of the story as well as see my Q&A later today!
Melissa Triebwasser: Will Grier has been a revelation for the Mountaineers, helping the offense to not skip a beat despite losing several key players to graduation a season ago. What is it about him that makes him such a good fit for WVU?
Matt Kirchner: Besides the flowing hair, flawless beard, and rugged good looks?
He's the dream Holgo QB, to be honest. Cannon arm, good accuracy, runs just well enough to keep you honest. He's shown a good grasp of the offense, which is an asset created by Grier sitting and learning for a year.
MT: Let's talk about the run game a little. Justin Crawford continues to shine for WVU, and is rushing for about 20 yards more per game this season than last, while maintaining a 7+ yard per carry average. What's the biggest difference in his game from a season ago?
MK: There's really not a difference, to be honest. The yardage stats are, more or less, exactly the same as what he was doing last year as one of the more under the radar stars in the Big 12.
The biggest difference is that he's getting into the end zone this season, with six TDs in four games compared to four all of last season. Now, I may just be a small town pizza lawyer, but I've been told that's good.
MT: On the other side, the WVU run defense has been... well... not great. The Mountaineers are allowing well over 200 yards on the ground per game, and now face what is probably the best backfield they have seen all season. Is there a concern for Eers fans about that aspect of the defense, or is it something that will work itself out?
MK: It was a concern all offseason that has, unfortunately, shown itself to be a serious concern. We're replacing more there than we are anywhere else, and a lot of young guys have been forced in action. True freshman Lamonte McDougle has been a bit of a revelation and hopefully his emergence can light a spark under the defensive line.
MT: How do you think Holgo will game plan against the TCU offense overall? Is there a player or two that most worries you as a fan? Is there a player outside of Grier and Crawford that Frog fans need to know about on offense and defense for the Eers?
MK: I don't think he's trying to get into an absurd shootout, so you'll see a lot of Crawford, McKoy, and Petteway to set up playaction.
I'm always concerned when WVU plays a QB like Hill because I will have Mike Vick PTSD forever and ever. Turpin has ludicrous speed and WVU has given up at least one giant, stupid TD in every game.
On offense, you're going to get really tired of hearing how David Sills committed to USC at 13 as he's hitting you up for 6/115/2. Defensively, our best pass rusher David Long is back from injury and should be at full strength after missing our first four games.
MT: For the second time overall and the first time in Fort Worth, GameDay will be present for a matchup between these two teams. When ESPN came to Morgantown, the Frogs escaped with a crazy win, despite a riled up crowd and a crazy environment. Do you think TCU will get a bump from the festivities, or will it be a non-factor for a 2:30 game?
MK: I don't think GameDay changes much, it would be a great atmosphere either way and I'd except nothing less.
MT: This series has been so even over time, with each team winning three games a piece. The first three Big 12 games between them were decided by a total of five points, while the programs have traded blowouts the last two years, with WVU handing it to the Horned Frogs in Morgantown a season ago. How do you see this game playing out?
MK: Another close one, and I've gone back and forth all week. I think TCU edges this one out behind their home fans, 38-35.
MT: Ok, let's talked #BeatWesternVirginia. Were you genuinely annoyed by it, or was it funny to you how many WVU fans took it seriously? Or maybe a little bit of both?
MK: This is so dumb. Oh my god, so dumb.
Kudos to you guys for inadvertently finding our insane fanbase's most ridiculous trigger. It was freaking hilarious.
Be sure to tell any WVU fans you see that you have family near Richmond.
MT: Do you think WVU and TCU are rivals, or do they share a kinship for coming into the conference together?
MK: The Big East Game of the Week of the Year is definitely one of my favorite games of the Big 12 season, probably because of our weird relationship through all this stuff. Suck my Dixon.
Thanks to Matt and sorry for not asking him to defend Pepperoni Rolls over BBQ. MY BAD.