25 Thoughts vs. West Virginia

The #7 TCU Horned Frogs pulled out the 31-30 victory over the #20 West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday afternoon. Here are the things that caught our eye during the game.

25. West Virginia’s Kevin White came in to the game with a ton of hype and during the first quarter, he looked the part. I have no doubt that he’s going to be a good pro receiver, but TCU’s Kevin White completely shut down the Mountaineer’s big play threat. He was held to 3 receptions for 28 yards and nothing at all after the 1st quarter.

24. West Virginia jumped out on top early when Clint Trickett hit Mario Alford on a 24 yard scoring strike. The TD pass made it 7-0 with 11:07 in the 1st quarter. The Frogs looked to be missing a lot of tackles early on and West Virginia came out like their hair was on fire.

23. Cameron Echols-Luper is probably glad this game is over. He made multiple mistakes and took some really big hits on the afternoon. Luckily, TCU escaped with the victory, but if West Virginia would have won, Echols-Luper’s performance would have been that much more under the microscope. Not to call out the young return specialist, but the game looked too big for a couple of guys today.

22. The West Virginia fans brought the energy today. They were a big time factor in the game. Add the fan’s showing to the nasty weather and the TCU victory is that much more impressive. As ugly as it was, a win on the road, against a ranked team and in that environment is very impressive.

21. For the second straight week, TCU looked to come out flat. After starting the season by jumping on their opponents early and often, the Frogs have fallen behind early in each of their last two games. Obviously the final score is all that matters, but it takes a lot of pressure off of the defense when you can jump up on your opponent early in the game.

20. West Virginia threatened to jump out to a 14-0 lead early on TCU, but as has been the case more often than not lately, the TCU Red Zone defense was up to the challenge. They forced a 21 yard FG to make it 10-0 instead, with 6:19 left in the 1st quarter. That hold turned out to be very important in the grand scheme of things.

19. After taking the 10 point lead, West Virginia took a page out of TCU’s playbook a week ago against Texas Tech when they dropped a high arcing pooch kick down at the 30 yard line. Cameron Echols-Luper and B.J. Catalon seemed to hesitate and the ball took a West Virginia bounce as the Mountaineers recovered the ball on the TCU 30 yard line.

18. With great starting field position, it looked like West Virginia was going for the kill shot early on. But another defensive stand, highlighted by a Jonathan Anderson sack, forced West Virginia in to another FG. This one was from 44 yards out and it made the score 13-0 Mountaineers with 3:52 left in the 1st quarter. Another play of note on the drive was the tackle of Clint Trickett by Josh Carraway. On the play, Carraway made a great play on the ball but as he was making the tackle, he got way with a blatant face mask penalty. Trickett was never the same after that hit.

17. TCU answered right back on the next drive when after an 18 yard run by B.J. Catalon, Trevone Boykin tallied his one and only passing TD on the afternoon when he hooked up with Deante’ Gray on a 47 yard TD on a WR screen. On the play, Gray took the screen, split two defenders and then outraced everyone to the end zone. The explosive play pulled TCU to within 13-7 with 1:44 left in the 1st quarter.

16. TCU forced 5 turnovers on the afternoon but was unable to put any distance between them and West Virginia on the scoreboard. James McFarland forced a fumble that Chris Bradley recovered but TCU went three and out following the recovery. On the next possession, Chris Hackett picked off Trickett’s pass and returned it to the Mountaineer 22 yard line but again, TCU’s offense stalled. After a chop block, 2 incompletions and a Zach Allen 1 yard run, TCU had to punt again, squandering great field position.

15. As the 2nd quarter began, the TCU defense really turned it up a notch but TCU’s offensive woes continued. It looked like for a while that no matter what the defense did, the offense just wasn’t going to show up today. After Derrick Kindred recovered a fumble that Chris Hackett forced, Boykin gave it right back with his 4th interception of the year.

14. 13-7 was the halftime score after neither team scored in the 2nd quarter. Compare that to last week when TCU held a 34-20 lead over Texas Tech. It was the first time this season that TCU didn’t score at least 24 points in the 1st half.

13. After trading three and outs with West Virginia in the 3rd quarter, TCU got a break when Mike Tuaua recovered a bad snap meant for Clint Trickett. Trickett was changing the play at the line of scrimmage when the center snapped the ball, their 4th turnover of the game. TCU would turn to their running game as they ran 5 straight times culminating with a 2 yard TD run by Boykin to make it 14-13 TCU with 9:27 left in the 3rd quarter.

12. West Virginia wasted no time answering back as Dreamius Smith raced 50 yards to set the Mountaineers up inside the redzone. 4 plays later Smith would punch it in from 5 yards out to make it 20-14 West Virginia with 6:51 left in the 3rd quarter.

11. With the way the offense had been operating, it looked like the game was over when Josh Docston took a pass from Boykin, turned up field and was stripped of the ball. Terrell Chesnut scooped up the fumble and ran it in from 35 yards out to make it 27-14 West Virginia with 6:36 left in the 3rd quarter. TCU could have folded up shop, but they kept fighting.

10. TCU went three and out on their next possession but after a Perry punt to the West Virginia 34, Clint Trickett made a fatal mistake. With pressure coming, he tried to force the ball to his receiver but Paul Dawson made a beautiful interception to set TCU up in business from the West Virginia 35 yard line.

9. Right after West Virginia’s 5th turnover, B.J. Catalon scampered in from 23 yards out to pull TCU to within 27-21 with 2:25 left in the 3rd quarter. Catalon finished with 105 yards on 20 carries to go with his 2 touchdowns but he paid the price all afternoon. He took several hard hits but kept battling back.

8. West Virginia answered right back when Mario Alford got loose for a 46 yard gain past the inexperienced Nick Orr. The play highlighted a 5 play 52 yard drive that culminated in a Josh Lambert 23 yard FG to push the lead to 30-21 with 14:56 left in the 4th quarter.

7. TCU would force a 3 and out by West Virginia and then answer with an 8 play 51 yard drive that was capped off by a 6 yard run by Catalon to cut the lead to 30-28 with 7:33 left in the 4th quarter. On the drive, Doctson pulled in a 15 yard reception, Listenbee ran a reverse for 6 yards and Catalon ran it down to the 9 yard line to make it first and goal. Cat was the work horse on the night and he carried the offense own the stretch. Along with Catalon’s 105 yards rushing, Aaron Green added 63 yards on 11 carries and Boykin finished with 49 yards on 9 carries, even though he seemed hesitant to run in the first half.

6. Mike Tuaua almost forced West Virginia’s 6th turnover when he hit Trickett, causing him to fumble, but TCU was unable to recover the ball. After the punt, TCU took over on their own 29. Boykin had a nice 21 yard run out to mid field but after a few short plays, Boykin missed Cat on what would have been along gainer, and maybe even a touchdown if it weren’t for the fact that the West Virginia defender held Catalon, preventing him from getting out on his route. TCU turned it over on downs and it looked like the Frogs’ playoff hopes were dashed.

5. Thanks to Dana Holgerson howerer, TCU was still in it. Whether it was too big of a stage, or just uncertainty that his team would be able to move the ball when it needed to, Holgorson went in to his shell. 3 straight runs and a punt gave TCU one more shot to win the game.

4. TCU started their final drive at the West Virginia 24 yard line and Boykin wasted little time, striking quickly to put TCU in great shape. After a 3 yard run by Boykin, the junior signal caller hit Kolby Listenbee with his best pass of the day, a 40 yarder that put the ball on the West Virginia 33 yard line and in to FG range.

3. TCU would then run 4 more times between Boykin and Catalon to get the ball down to the 20 yard line with :04 seconds left on the clock. After West Virginia attempted to ice Jaden Oberkrom, the strong legged kicker drilled a 37 yard FG as time expired, giving the Frogs an impressive 31-30 victory in one of the toughest venues to play in all of college football.

2. TCU could have folded at any time and just accepted the loss but that’s not how Gary Patterson teams operate. The Frogs were able to dig deep and pull out the improbable victory. As ugly as the game was to watch for TCU fans, it’s another feather in the cap for TCU when it comes to the College Football Playoff Committee. To go on the road in a hostile environment, against a good team with bad weather from the outset, showed the type of resiliency that this TCU team has.

1. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to being critical during the game thread. As much as I wanted to see the ground game established earlier, it’s better late than never. TCU’s commitment to running the ball in the 2nd half was ultimately the difference in the game. They finished with 223 yards on the ground after a very sluggish start. Overall it was a good win for TCU, but they’ll need to play much better next week when Kansas State comes calling to Amon G. Carter Stadium.

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