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TCU vs. West Virginia: 5 Things We Learned

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The Horned Frog defense continued to falter as head coach Gary Patterson’s squad drops below .500 for the first time this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 West Virginia at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The TCU football team fell below the .500 mark on the season for the first time Saturday, with the Horned Frogs losing 29-17 against the West Virginia Mountaineers, who entered the matchup without a conference win. TCU’s defense continued to disappoint, conceding almost 500 yards to the Jarret Doege and Leddie Brown led Mountaineer offense.

Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s deflating loss at Amon G. Carter Stadium

1. The unrest surrounding TCU football continues to mount

Saturday’s loss was another low point for a football program that many analysts and fans predicted would bounce back this season. There were noticeable boos coming from attendees at The Carter, while questions continued mounting on social media about head coach Gary Patterson’s future at the helm.

The Horned Frogs fell to 12-10 at home over the last four seasons, second-worst among Big 12 Conference teams with only Kansas trailing. Whether the boos from fans were a result of TCU settling for a 24-yard field goal late in the first half, the continued decisions to punt in opposing territory or the three turnovers committed by the offense, Horned Frog fans are growing incresingly frustrated with the trajectory TCU football appears to be showing.

2. West Virginia exposed TCU’s greatest offensive flaw

The Mountaineers were the first team this season to contain star running back Zach Evans, who finished the night with a season-low 62 rushing yards on 18 carries. Although Kendre Miller shined in limited reps, Duggan’s foot injury appears to be restricting his activity in the running game, as the junior quarterback totaled only 27 rushing yards on seven carries.

TCU has excelled in featuring wide receiver Quentin Johnston over the last two games, but with West Virginia shutting down Evans and Duggan in the running game, the Horned Frogs were forced to make plays in the passing game. That came to a head in the second half, with Duggan throwing two bad interceptions and Johnston losing a fumble that effectively sealed the loss. The Mountaineers scored 10 points off the three TCU turnovers.

3. The trademark takeaways aren’t coming for the defense

What was expected to be a potent defensive line filled with veteran players and talented edge rushers has been extremely underwhelming as TCU reaches the halfway point of the season. Ochaun Mathis and Khari Coleman have only three sacks combined, while the interior crew of Corey Bethley, Patrick Jenkins, Terrell Cooper and Earl Barquet are routinely pushed off their spots and unable to fill gaps or gain penetration in the trenches.

TCU’s inability to rush the passer or contain the run has placed additional pressure on the team’s linebackers and defensive backs, who have struggled in deep coverage and aren’t coming away with the key takeaways seen in past seasons. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Dee Winters have stepped up this season and while TJ Carter has been a sure tackler in the secondary, too many backs are reaching second and third levels and too many receivers are winning routes down the field. The Horned Frogs are allowing over 500 yards per game.

4. Quentin Johnston has back-to-back 100-yard receiving games

The 6-foot-4 sophomore continued to perform after torching the Oklahoma secondary for 185 yards and three touchdowns last weekend. Although Johnston committed a crucial turnover in the fourth quarter, he continued to be TCU’s most effective pass catcher on Saturday, totaling five receptions for 113 yards. After being used as primarily a deep-ball threat as a freshman, Johnston has developed his short-yardage and intermediate route-running abilities while breaking away from defenders with yards-after-catch ability.

5. A former TCU assistant will have his chance at the helm

Texas Tech made a bold move in its football program, dismissing head coach Matt Wells after a 13-15 run over three seasons while promoting former TCU offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie to the interim position. Cumbie worked at TCU from 2014-20 before departing this past year to work for the Red Raiders, his alma mater. Texas Tech currently sits at 5-3 on the season, but bad conference losses against Texas, TCU and Kansas State appear to be the last straws for the athletic executives in Lubbock.