It’s another week, and another talented quarterback is preparing to challenge the West Virginia defense.
The dual-threat scouting report has been seen in most, if not all, of the Mountaineers’ games this season, but senior signal caller Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs will be part of the highest-skilled tier that West Virginia has faced so far.
TCU comes into Saturday’s matchup as the top team in the Big 12 and ranked No. 7 in the FBS.
“If you don’t play well, you’re gonna get embarrassed by this group,” West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said of TCU during Tuesday’s news conference. “It’s a great opportunity this week. They’re a really impressive team. Their offense is a lot of the same people we’ve played in the last three years.”
With TCU having many returnees, this could’ve been taken as a positive sign originally. The Mountaineers have defeated the Horned Frogs in all three matchups under Brown, allowing an average of just 13.3 points.
Now, TCU is making its veteran presence felt. The Horned Frogs rank third in the nation in both points per game (44.7) and offensive yards (522.1).
“They always have the ability to hit a home run,” Mountaineers defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley said. “They never not have a way to be explosive. When you have that, you’re never out of any game because you can score in 10 seconds.”
Duggan, a four-year veteran, highlights the offense for the Horned Frogs, throwing completing 133-of-193 passes, a 69 percent rate, for 1,871 yards. This comes alongside 19 touchdowns compared to just one interception.
This season, Duggan has thrown for 300 or more yards in a game three times, while recording three-plus touchdowns on five occasions.
Duggan is also TCU’s third-leading rusher, totaling 274 yards and four touchdowns on 58 carries. In the Horned Frogs’ win over Oklahoma on Oct. 1, Duggan ran for 116 yards and two scores on five attempts, including a 67-yard touchdown run.
“Max Duggan is playing at an extremely high level,” Brown said. “He’s a dual-threat, and is really strong. He’s fast, but strong. He can run through tackles. He’s also been taking care of the football since his accuracy has improved.”
Mountaineers defensive lineman Sean Martin said the key to containing Duggan will be to keep him in the pocket and not let pass plays be extended. Martin and his fellow frontmen on defense will need to pressure Duggan due to many of the Horned Frogs’ passes coming out quickly.
In last season’s matchup with TCU, West Virginia slowed down the Horned Frogs’ offense by forcing three turnovers, including two interceptions from Duggan, to earn a 29-17 victory.
Despite the loss, Duggan threw for 244 yards, his third-highest total for a game in 2021.
Martin still gave the quarterback a rain check.
“Last year, he had a foot injury,” Martin said. “I think he’s fully healthy now. He’s fast. Once he gets out of the pocket, he’s hard to stop. We have to make sure he stays in there long enough for the defensive backs to make a play.”