Morgantown, WV (November 2nd, 2014)
By Dave Ackermann – Senior Writer (Feature photo by Dave Ackermann of BlueGoldSports.com)
If you are a WVU fan, yesterday was a good day to be a Mountaineer, but not a Great Day! If you are a TCU fan getting ready to travel back to Texas, it was a wonderful come from behind Horned-Frog victory and hopefully, you had a great time in Morgantown, WV.
At any rate, it was an electric atmosphere and the Mountaineers seemingly had the #7 ranked Horned Frogs “on the ropes” for most of the game. Well, even up until the last couple of minutes. When the defense held TCU on 4th down late in the game, many in the stadium felt the WVU victory had been preserved, but as famous ESPN GAMEDAY color man, Lee Corso says, “not so fast” my friends! Incidentally, Corso picked TCU during his famous head gear picking segment of the popular pre-game show and it was his 250th head gear pick.
But let’s get to the root cause of the Mountaineer failure on this day!
The WVU Offense!! (Photo by Kelsie Vanderwijst of BlueGoldSports.com)
Yes, when you win, it is a TEAM victory, and when you lose, it is a TEAM loss. But, the buck has to stop somewhere and yesterday, it stopped on the WVU offense.
- Five (5) turnovers resulting in 14 TCU points.
- A passing game that left much to be desired (15-26 for 162 net passing yards and two interceptions)
- A rushing attack that failed to dominate when needed and turned the ball over (5 fumbles – 3 recovered by TCU).
- Offensive play calls at key times that were downright ugly (54 rushing attempts to 26 passing attempts).
- Jordan Thompson was your leading receiver with 7 catches on the day, but for only 39 yards, no touchdowns and his longest reception was 8 yards.
- Kevin White and Mario Alford had 3 catches each and Mario did grab a 23 yard TD as part of his total of 79 receiving yards, but leading receiver White caught only three passes for 28 total yards. Smallwood and Shell each had a reception, but there were only 9 other target opportunities and two of those ended in interceptions.
- Dreamius Smith had the best day rushing (12 carries for 70 yards and a TD with a long run of 50 yards), but yards were hard to find in the 4th quarter due to field position, its seemed, and that was also true on the last series when Andrew Buie (12 carries for 42 yards and no touchdowns) was the mainstay.
- When the offense needed to get a first down in the 4th quarter, it was seemingly rush oriented and Clint Trickett had much to do with that, as according to Holgorsen in his post game comments, he stated “Clint was uncomfortable, incredibly uncomfortable“.
But what made it a Good Day to be a Mountaineer?
The WVU Defense! (Photo by Kelsie Vanderwijst of BlueGoldSports.com)
The WVU defense that limited the high powered TCU offense that averages 50.4 points per game to just 31 points and 14 of those points were scored off of very short fields after WVU turnovers. Time and time again, it seemed the defense bailed out the offense, especially in the first half. The defense also forced a fumble and put up 7 of WVU’s 30 points on the day (Terrell Chestnut fumble recovery and ramble for a 35 yard TD).
But the most important stat of the day for the WVU defense was that they forced TCU to punt the ball 9 times in the game. They held TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin to just 12 completions on 30 attempts and one passing touchdown while also getting an interception (by K J Dillon). The defense also held Boykin to just 49 yards rushing(just under his 53 yard average) and one rushing touchdown. However, his longest run of 21 yards came at the most inopportune time late in the 4th quarter putting TCU at mid-field with a running clock, but the defense got off the field on 4th down on an incomplete Boykin pass.
The other trouble was they had to contend with TCU running back B J Catalon who rushed for a net of 105 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. The touchdowns came mostly on short fields unfortunately. The defense did limit the vaunted TCU receiving corps on the day, as they got only one touchdown (WR Deante’ Gray had 2 receptions for 55 yards and 47 of them were on the TD). Receiving star Josh Doctson would be held t just 3 receptions for 29 yards (15 being the long) while Kolby Listenbee was held to 2 receptions for 47 yards (and the long was a 40 yard catch).
Unfortunately for the defense, after playing lights out and stopping TCU on 4th down at the WVU 43 yard line with only 3:46 remaining in the game, the WVU offense was stopped cold on three successive Andrew Buie rushes for a net loss of 2 yards. O’Toole punted 35 yards to the TCU 24 yard line. This set-up the toughest failure for the defense in the game as that is when Kolby Listenbee got loose in the secondary for that 40 yard reception from Boykin (mentioned above) moving the ball into field goal range at the WVU 34 yard line. Boykin rushed for 6 of his 49 net rushing yards on the very next play, followed by two rushes by Catalon resulting in a TCU first down at the WVU 24 yard line. The rest is history as TCU’s kicker, Jaden Oberkrom, nailed the 37 yard game winner with no time remaining on the clock.
So, in short the WVU defense was only out-played for the final 2:07 seconds of the game. Were their any other bright spots, you ask?
WVU Special Teams! (photo by Kelsie Vanderwijst of BlueGoldSports.com)
Yes, the WVU Special Teams were very good and probably the brightest spot in this disappointing and heart-breaking loss. Lambert was 3-3 on field goals (from 21, 44 and 23 yards) and converted all three extra points for an 12 point scoring game. O’Toole averaged 45.4 yards punting on 7 punts and the coverage team helped him secure a net punting average of 43.4 yards per punt.
Kick-off coverage was excellent, allowing only three returns for a total of only 15 yards (5 yards average per return) and Molinari kicked two in the end zone for touchbacks while the only blemish was that another went out of bounds and set-up TCU on their 35 to start a drive. The Kick return team for WVU averaged 17.7 yards per return on 3 returns for 53 total yards and had to take a couple of touchbacks in the end zone as well.
All in all, it was the fourth top ten team WVU faced this season and a great game; while TCU came out on top, the Mountaineers will get over this one and get ready for another Texas road trip next weekend as they travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns (and try to get win #7 on the season once again).
The official attendance for the TCU game was 61,190.