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Keys to Victory: WVU Football Needs to be Better to Make Statement Against TCU



WVU Football Huddle

The 2023 WVU football team has already played in some big games this season, and has won most of them, but this upcoming matchup with TCU is the biggest test yet for the Mountaineers.

Entering the game at 3-1, Neal Brown and his team believe they have already proved critics wrong. And that’s likely the case since many predicted this group would struggle to win three or four games all season. But Brown has admitted that there’s still more work to do in order to show West Virginia will be a legitimate contender in the Big 12 all year. Beating TCU, the reigning national runner-up who is also 3-1 at this point, is exactly what WVU needs to do to accomplish that goal.

Can Neal Brown Show His Mountaineers Are Actual Contenders?

What are the keys to winning this matchup over the Horned Frogs?

Get CJ Donaldson Going

No matter who is out there at quarterback, the real leader of the offense has to be CJ Donaldson. WVU’s freak of an athlete is also coming off arguably the worst game he’s played since assuming the position at West Virginia. And his head coach and offensive coordinator made it clear they believe that that to be the case.

Donaldson ran for only an average of 3.2 yards per touch against Texas Tech a week putting up over 100 yards for 5.7 yards per carry in the Backyard Brawl win over Pitt. It might be unreasonable to expect 5.7 every single game, but as his coaches have said, 3.2 can’t happen.

WVU Football CJ Donaldson against Texas Tech

The Mountaineers can absolutely establish the run beyond what one player does, but despite the talents of Jaylen Anderson, Jahiem White and Justin Johnson Jr. and even any quarterback scrambling, Donaldson has to be the driving force, especially on the road in a big game.

WVU Needs to Play Smart

It’s no secret WVU has been winning thanks to the defense. But how long can that really be sustainable? Something unconventional about how West Virginia has been winning has been the fact it’s occurred without alway playing smart football.

Nicco Marchiol, who’s led WVU to back-to-back wins in replace of Garrett Greene, turned the ball over three combined times in those games. He fumbled against Pitt, something that didn’t burn the Mountaineers since the defense picking off Phil Jurkovec a couple plays later. Marchiol threw two interceptions last week, and they helped keep Texas Tech in a game when they were otherwise getting outplayed.

Usually if an offense is winning with under 100-yards passing, it’s because the quarterback is at least not hurting team with turnovers. Unlike Pitt and Texas Tech, TCU can, and likely will take advantage of mistakes like that.

Offense Must be Better, and That’s Not Just About QB

When an offense struggles to score, to create big plays, or show any signs of explosiveness, people often look to the quarterback play. And that is logically because the quarterback is leading the charge. However, the issues of West Virginia’s offense aren’t just about Marchiol

As stated earlier, Donaldson is coming off a bad game. The other running backs have been okay when given an opportunity, but haven’t set the world on fire either. And most of all, the wide receivers, a mostly new group for this season, haven’t been good enough either.

Brown said, that while Marchiol could’ve played better this past, the rest of the offense needs to do more to help him too. Devin Carter, who was brought in to be the number one wide receiver, hasn’t produced like one so far. Cortez Braham hasn’t stepped up like expected. Top freshman recruit Rodney Gallagher has earned snaps, but seems a ways away from breaking out.

Bilal Marshall and Devin Carter

WVU’s best wide receiver so far ti season has arguably been Hudson Clement, a West Virginia native who wasn’t on scholarship until after his performable against Duquesne. No disrespect to Clement, but that shouldn’t be the case. It’s nice tight end Kole Taylor has acted as a reliable pass catcher, but whoever is under center is going to need more weapons to utilize in order to get the offense truly going.

This matchup with TCU is a game that this WVU football team could parentally play well and still suffer a loss, but this is a pivotal time in the season for Brown and company. If West Virginia can put up a strong effort against a quality opponent, that then will wake people up and force them to realize the 2023 Mountaineers are for real. But a poor showing and a blowout loss will make the doubters say WVU has finally been exposed and the team we expected to see finally showed up.

Time will tell, but West Virginia and TCU will kickoff from Amen G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas at 8 pm ET on Saturday night.

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