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Quick Thoughts: WVU 29, TCU Football 17

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What is it about WVU that turns the Frogs into tadpoles?

Zach Evans stiff-arms a West Virginia defender during TCU Football’s home contest against the Mountaineers.
Melissa Triebwasser

I have no words.

I mean, really, I have a ton of words. But none of them good, and most have been well-hashed out in our comments.

I am so frustrated and so confused, and ultimately so... disappointed. But I’m just a kind of media member and a whole lot of TCU fan, so this just...sucks.

Anyway, West Virginia somehow always seem to have our number, and they did that again Saturday night. It wasn’t so much that they dominated but they we shot ourselves in the foot time and time again, and they were the team to take advantage of it. Credit to their defense, their offense — especially Jarret Doege — and their coaching staff: this team was tough, hungry, and prepared.

The home team? Not so much.

The Frogs need their best players to perform consistently.

Quentin Johnston was awesome in Norman, setting career-highs and recording one of the ten best single game performances from a TCU WR in the program’s history. Saturday at home, the Frogs’ best option on the outside was plagued by drops and failed to fight for the ball on both of his quarterback’s picks.

He finished with 5 catches on eight targets, and though he recorded 113 yards, he was responsible for some of the more devastating plays on the night, including being the target for the two picks and a fourth quarter fumble that sealed the Frogs’ fate.

From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in seven days. I don’t get it.

Zach Evans struggled on the ground, but after missing the second half of TCU’s win in Lubbock and all of the L at Oklahoma due to an injury, I am willing to give him a pass this week. He still finished with 97 total yards.

Max Duggan: consistently inconsistent.

Duggan turned in the best game of his career in Norman a week ago, but that magic didn’t travel — and the WVU defense did. Max threw two really bad interceptions: the first torpedoed an excellent scoring opportunity, as the QB threw a 50/50 ball into the flat on third and four from the Mountaineer 23, one that went right through Quentin Johnston’s hands and into a defender’s.

At the time, TCU trailed 20-17 and had eaten up five minutes of clock testing the WVU D. The Eers drove for a field goal on the ensuing drive, and the Frogs’ next two drives picked up five total yards, with one ending in another INT.

Duggan finished 16-26, throwing for 244 yards, a touchdown, and the two interceptions. Some of this is scheme, some of this is surely him dealing with a broken bone in his foot, but man, we all thought we would be in such a different place with our QB three and a half years in.

Field Goals are failures when your defense can’t consistently get stops.

TCU Football converted a big fourth down penalty early in the game — a fourth and five that became the first offensive touchdown for the Frogs, but turned down the opportunity to take a lead into the locker room when they elected to kick a field goal on fourth and goal from the two.

The whole sequence was weird; with 2:48 to play in the half, the Frogs started a drive from their own 20, moving down the field with efficiency. Max Duggan completed three passes, Zach Evans and Duggan had a few nice runs, and before we knew it TCU was fourth and two from the two. Gary Patterson tried to call a timeout, West Virginia got charged for a timeout, and at some point GP was trying to get time added back on the clock for some reason. TCU looked like their were going to line up for go for it initially, but decided to take a delay of game penalty and a gimme three points rather than grab some momentum going into the locker room.

The decision was roundly booed in the stadium, and I understand why. It didn’t make a lot of sense for a team that was struggling to stop a relatively tame WVU offense on one side of the field and having a really hard time getting into the end zone on the other to give up four points. Even if they had failed, it would have been a one score game heading into the second half, and the team may still have had some extra juice by going for it.

But you also can’t play worst case scenario: TCU has Zach Evans and Kendre Miller on their roster — they ought to feel like they can line things up and get two yards more often than not.

This team just can’t get the “big play” when they need it.

Whether it’s a third or fourth a short, a stop on third down from the defense, or just playing their assignments on early downs to get their opponent behind the chains, this team just doesn’t have the ability to sack up and make plays.

It’s super frustrating, because you see the talent in spots, but when there’s one of those “moments” in a game, it’s a bunch of shrinking violets ducking out of the spotlight.

I don’t want to call a kid out or accuse them of not playing hard because I am sure they are all working their tails off every day... but... man, something just ain’t right out there.

We saw it against SMU and Texas — they were so many chances to change the momentum in both — we saw it in Norman in the four drives on either side of half time. There isn’t a ton separating this 3-4 team from being 5-2 or maybe even 6-1, but the work isn’t winning out when TCU needs it to the most.

Who is the guy on defense you trust? Ochaun Mathis did some good, blocking a field goal, Corey Bethley had a sack but was part of a defensive line 229 yards on the ground, and Dee Winters had 12 tackles — but that’s because of how much time players spent at the second level of the defense.

This team has a really hard path to bowl-eligibility.

At Kansas State. Baylor at home. At Oklahoma State.

Those are your next three games: do you feel good about any of that?

Kansas at home... well... they looked good against OU, but they’re still Kansas, we hope.

At Iowa State.

Can you find three more wins, because unless something dramatically changes, I am having a hard time seeing a path to a bowl game.

The Frogs last played in a Bowl Game in 2018. They didn’t qualify in 2019, and had to bow out in 2020 due to COVID issues on the team. We are dangerously close to 2021 being three straight seasons without a bowl appearance and four seasons since TCU was truly competitive in the Big 12 Conference.

Are we okay with that? Does it matter if we aren’t?

Will Gary Patterson take a step back, look inside his program, and make the kind of shake-up decisions he did heading into 2014?

Or will he run it back in 2022 and hope for different results?

These are four of the most frustrating losses I have seen in the last several seasons. This team just doesn’t seem like they have the ability to turn the switch on.

And the fan base is losing interest. Apathy is the issue here, and it’s not going to change until the winning returns.