Saturday’s matchup against TCU was WVU’s fourth Big 12 conference game of the season, and the Mountaineers were able to pull out their first win in conference play so far. The Mountaineers’ 29-17 victory marked the fourth straight win against the Horned Frogs and the second straight win in Fort Worth.
Head coach Neal Brown spoke to the media shortly after the TCU win, and in doing so, made sure to give the performers their due credit. Brown addressed the two groups that have been struggling this season that came to play last night. He started with crediting the defensive backs, who created two interceptions and a forced fumble that proved to be fatal for TCU’s offense.
“Two groups that right off the bat, that have been beat up a little bit this year, and I thought came out and played extremely well and ended up being the difference of the game… the first one is the defensive backs,” Brown said. “They had three takeaways within that room. Limited big plays for the most part. I thought they played their best game of the season by far.”
The second group that Brown spoke on that stepped up was the offensive line. The offensive line proved to be much better on Saturday, as they opened holes for Leddie Brown, Tony Mathis, and everyone else in the running game. WVU scored all three of their touchdowns on the ground, so the players responsible for getting the run game back going again got the credit they deserved.
“We mixed up our presentations, how we were running the football. We mixed up our runs. We mixed in some under center, which has been effective for us this year,” Brown said. They (the offensive line) strained too. I thought our footwork is the best it’s been all year, and they took some of the heat they were getting personal. That’s what you want, you want it to be important to the guys.”
Another story for the West Virginia team on Saturday was handling early adversity. The Horned Frogs scored on the opening play of the game with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown. The Mountaineers answered with points and did not lay down after that big play by TCU. Adversity in the beginning parts of the game has been something WVU has had to deal with for the past three games, and that adversity was handled better than the previous weeks.
“I thought we handled adversity, something we didn’t do against Baylor. I never really thought we bounced back from the two opening touchdown drives against Baylor, but I thought that as a football team, that we handled adversity much better,” Brown said.
Going into Saturday’s game, WVU knew limiting TCU’s running game would be a challenge. The Mountaineers did not back down against TCU’s two-headed running back system, as they were able to hold the Horned Frogs to a season-low 149 yards rushing. This defensive effort against the ground game proved to be a difference maker for Neal Brown’s team.
“We bent but we didn’t break, and we didn’t give up those explosive runs that they’ve been given,” Brown said. “I think the difference for us was we got multiple hats to the ball carrier repeatedly. The other thing too was we had a couple third and fourth down stops that were huge in the game.”
This win was big for WVU, as it was the first Big 12 conference win for the Mountaineers. It was also the first true road win for WVU since beating TCU in 2019, so naturally the locker room is pretty happy.
“They’re excited, but this isn’t an unexpected win. Our guys have really expected to win, we just haven’t done things in the fourth quarter to go win the games,” Brown said. “We went and won the game today. We were able to run the clock out. We made some key takeaways in the second half, so they’re excited.”
Finishing up, Coach Brown briefly looked ahead to next Saturday’s game against Iowa State and urged Mountaineer Nation to get behind the team.
“We’ve got a huge challenge next week against an Iowa State team that dominated us last year,” Brown said. “I hope our fans are excited. It’s been a rough three weeks for them, I get it, but our guys played really really hard for that flying WV tonight, so I hope our fans show up next Saturday.”