Preview: WVU Excited to Get Back Home and Host TCU Saturday
TCU’s two-game winning streak will be on the line when the Horned Frogs hop their way into Morgantown to take on the Mountaineers Saturday.
After winning just one of its first four games, TCU (3-3, 3-3 Big 12) will come into Morgantown this weekend off of victories over Baylor and Texas Tech in consecutive weeks.
West Virginia (4-3, 3-3) meanwhile is coming off of a disappointing 17-14 loss to the Texas Longhorns last week and has lost two of its last three contests.
The key to TCU’s offense this season has been its rushing attack, as WVU football coach Neal Brown explained Tuesday.
“They’re a spread attack and have the ability to mix tempos,” Brown said. “They can go fast when they want to. They’ve been very effective running the football. If you look at the stats over the last two games, they’ve really ran the ball well. As they’ve gone through this winning streak here, that’s been the key.”
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Few stats are as black and white as TCU’s rushing is this season. In three victories, the Horned Frogs have averaged 248 rushing yards, surpassing 200 total rushing yards all three times. In three losses, TCU has averaged just 121 total rushing yards, surpassing 100 just once.
TCU’s leading rusher is quarterback Max Duggan, someone who Brown said reminds him of the quarterback the Mountaineers most recently squared off against.
“Their quarterback, in my mind, is very similar to [Texas quarterback Sam] Ehlinger,” Brown said. “He’s a tough runner, he’s improved his accuracy, tough kid and he’s playing well for them right now.”
Duggan leads his team with 329 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns this season, although TCU coach Gary Patterson likes to spread the ball around quite a bit between three other running backs. Running backs Darwin Barlow, Kendre Miller and Zach Evans all have over 20 carries and 130 yards this season.
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On TCU’s defense, Brown was very complimentary of the job Patterson has done over the course of his tenure.
“If you look at longevity, I think Gary’s done it at an extremely high level for a long time,” Brown said. “I’m not sure anybody in the last 20 years has played defense better than TCU. That’s a credit to him, it’s always a challenge going against him.”
TCU”s leader on defense is linebacker Garret Wallow. A tackling machine, Wallow lead the Big 12 with 125 tackles last season, the only defender in the conference to average more than 10 tackles per game (10.4).
“He is all over the field and plays the game the right way,” Brown said of Wallow. “Physical, does a good job of reading and reacting.”
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TCU’s defense is not overly dynamic with 15 sacks and six takeaways on the season, but they are effective of third down, holding opponents to just a 28.9% conversion rate.
“They give you nothing easy,” Brown said. “When you play against TCU you know what the deal’s going to be. There’s going to be no easy plays, no easy runs, no easy completions.”
As of Tuesday, Brown said he was unsure if WVU’s leading rusher, junior Leddie Brown, would be able to play against TCU after sustaining an injury against Texas.
WVU and TCU will kick off at noon Saturday from Morgantown. The game is set to be broadcast on FOX.