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14 Takeaways from TCU’s 31-24 win over WVU

The Frogs have a lot to clean up after escaping with a win Saturday in a hard fought battle with the Mountaineers.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was an ugly win, but the Frogs held off the Mountaineers Saturday night in a top 25 matchup. With Iowa State shocking the Sooners in Norman, the Frogs sit alone atop the Big 12, and are the only undefeated team in the conference. They, as they say, control their own destiny the rest of the way. Let’s take a look at what we learned today:

  • TCU really misses Patrick Morris and Julius Lewis. Without their starting center, the TCU run offense was anemic against one of the worst rush defenses in the country, and without their starting corner (and a banged up Jeff Gladney), the Eers picked on fourth stringer Tony James with great success. Here’s hoping Morris returns soon and Gladney heels up that ankle in short order.
  • Speaking of run offense... I have no idea what the offensive game plan was for today. TCU saw the 115th ranked run defense come into town and thought ‘let’s not give the ball to Darius Anderson, destroyer of worlds’. Anderson and Kyle Hicks combined for only 20 carries, an obscenely low number against a WVU D that had been gashed by Kansas. The Frogs had 36 total attempts for 176 yards, but, frankly, it should have been much more than that.
  • Maybe part of the problem was the offensive line? The Mountaineers blitzed on nearly every third down, and the Frogs had little answer for it. The nation’s number one team in third down conversion percentage coming into that game was just 6-15, and the Frogs had a paltry 16 first downs - TOTAL.
  • Let’s go back to the play-calling for a second - TCU ran the Wild Frog with a jet sweep toss on fourth and one. WHY. And really, for most of the game, it felt like Cumbie and Luper were being a little too cute. Unless they know something the rest of us don’t - and they likely do - it made little sense to me that you wouldn’t challenge the Mountaineer front with your bevy of talented backs. Very frustrating.
  • But on the other side... Kenny Hill was far from perfect, but he was really pretty good Saturday. His stats won’t jump off the page for you - 15/28 for 188 yards and a touchdown, seven rushes for 28 yards and a TD, and a receiving touchdown of 48 yards. That’s a true triple threat. Hill did what he needed to do - he extended plays, ran when he needed to, avoided sacks (despite the jailbreak blitzes WVU kept throwing his way), and avoided the big mistake - though he came close once. Hill was good, not great, but he brought his team a win. That’s all we can ask.
  • Eight different TCU WRs caught passes, but for a while it was deja vu all over again, as the group as a whole caught a case of the dropsies. It kept the Frogs from getting in a good rhythm early, and cost them several first downs throughout the game. If that problem returns, the Frogs will have an uphill battle in their quest to compete for a Big 12 title.
  • On the other side of the ball, the vaunted TCU defensive line struggled with the WVU run game and the mobility of Will Grier. At least three times in the first half alone, a TCU defender had Grier in their grasp, only to see him slip out and make a play. They ended up with just two sacks, while allowing 111 yards to Crawford on a 5.8 yards per carry average. As a team, the Eers went 39-164 and a 3.6 average.
  • The linebackers had big days Saturday, as Travin Howard, Ty Summers, and Arico Evans combined for 23 tackles. Summers slid back to the middle from DE, with Montrel Wilson missing the game. Evans was banged up as well, and the injury bug has hit the TCU D, hard.
  • TCU got burned for a couple big plays, something that happens a few times a game in the 4-2-5. One was on a Ranthony Texada CB blitz, a call that GP took the blame for after the game (maybe don’t blitz your best corner when you’re down to fifth stringers). Another was a completely blown coverage when David Sills slipped inside on a crossing route. And Ka’Raun White went for 76 and a score when he flat out beat his man. It was a pretty ugly secondary performance, but with the injuries to TCU - and the Eers ability to find the sub and pick on them - they did a decent enough job. This WVU WR unit is really good - they have a ton of size and speed. TCU was outmatched and it was all they could do to hold them to 24 points. Against that offense, I call it a success.
  • A big reason they were able to hold the Eers to 24 was that they shut them down in the first half, allowing just a single field goal (though a second try missed). All the credit for that deserves to go to Adam Nunez, who was unbelievable Saturday. Nunez punted even times for 301 yards, downing four punts inside the five. It was an absolute thing of beauty and helped keep the Eers out of the end zone until the third quarter.
  • Ultimately, this was a gut it out win for the Frogs. It’s actually the perfect scenario if you’re Gary Patterson; after two weeks of everyone telling you how great you are and your team reading their positive press clippings, they came out with GameDay in town and very nearly laid an egg. Think they got a wake up call? I do, and I bet we see a much more focused team next weekend in the Little Apple.
  • Speaking of the Little Apple, TCU did a much better job against a very athletic QB in Will Grier than I expected, and assuming they tighten up the run defense and play like they did in the second half today on Saturday, that bodes well for the matchup in Manhattan.
  • Big picture wise, with OU losing today to IOWA STATE (OMG) at home, the Big 12 just got wide open. TCU has to go to Manhattan and Ames this month, and also has back-to-back road games in Norman and Lubbock in November. Expect the Sooners, the Cowboys, and the Mountaineers to stay in the hunt with the Frogs, with the Cats, Red Raiders, and Cyclones all sneaky good.
  • TCU will likely be ranked in the top five tomorrow, and that scares me. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think that the Frogs are one of the five best teams in the country, but they are one of the few to be 5-0. All we can do is keep winning, and let the chips fall where they may. One more chip fell right Saturday.