The TCU Horned Frogs entered Morgantown Saturday looking to gain some momentum with a win against the No. 12 West Virginia Mountaineers, but that was not the script to be had, as the Frogs suffered a season-worst 34-10 loss to move to 4-3 on the season.
It was the first time the Frogs had fallen in Morgantown since joining the Big 12 conference, having won each of the last two games by one point on the final play of the game. TCU mustered just 300 yards on offense, while turning the ball over three times in the loss. Kenny Hill only threw for 148 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
In a game in which so many things went wrong for TCU, let’s take a look at exactly how the Frogs were done in on the road.
TCU can’t rid themselves of slow, sloppy starts – In an all too common turn of events, TCU’s offense failed to establish any rhythm in the early going of this one. The Frogs got the ball first in this one, only to fumble the opening kickoff before the Mountaineers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The next time around, quarterback Kenny Hill threw a pick. The third time, a three out and a 14-0 Mountaineer lead. The TCU defense didn’t look much better, missing tackles on the first West Virginia score before allowing a deep completion in double coverage to set up the touchdown on the second drive. Considering the Frogs had two weeks to prepare for this contest, it’s a bit surprising to see them come out as sluggish as they did. Of course, Morgantown is no easy place to play, but it’s not as if TCU hasn’t been there before.
The offense was out of sync from start to finish – We’ve gotten accustomed to the Frogs putting up big numbers on offense in their contests, but not the case with this game. The Frogs scored at least 20 points 36 straight games, and that streak came crashing to an end today, via a scoreless 2nd half. Kenny Hill only passed for 148 yards Saturday afternoon and was sacked five times. To add to the receiving woes, no TCU receiver had more than 35 yards on the day. The most gut-wrenching stat of all though is that the Frogs went 2-of-11 on third downs, unable to make those critical plays when it mattered most. In the end, TCU only put up 296 yards of offense on the day.
Turnovers and penalties were fatal – Two weeks after a fiasco against Kansas in which Hill threw three picks and fumbled once, the Frogs once again were their own worst enemy on offense. While Hill threw just one pick, Deante Gray fumbled two kickoff returns, robbing the Frogs of two chances to get some offense going when they desperately could have used it. When it comes to penalties, the picture was just as ugly, as the Frogs were flagged 10 times for 67 yards. In a game so heavily defined by momentum, TCU could hardly do anything to get it on their side when they had the chance.
West Virginia is for real – Now at 6-0 on the season with a dominant win over the Frogs on their resume, the Mountaineers have proven themselves to be the real deal folks. Part of what made them so dangerous on Saturday was the defenses ability to force turnovers and offenses ability to get the job done when it mattered most, converting on third down 8-of-15 times. They still have their work cut out for them with games against Oklahoma and Baylor still to be played, but with both those games at home, look out for the Mountaineers to take home their first Big 12 title this season if they can defend their own turf.
Kyle Hicks, RB– In a night where the TCU offense was hardly the explosive force that we know it to be, Kyle Hicks stole the show. Hicks accounted for 103 of TCU’s 152 rushing yards, and though he didn’t record any touchdowns, it was still a commendable effort by the junior, giving the team a bright spot to cheer about in a game that was anything but bright. Hicks has now brought his total to 479 yards on the season.
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Travin Howard, LB – Howard was due for a big game, and he finally had it today, though in a loss. Howard recorded 11 total tackles, and all but 10 were solo tackles. His highlight of the day may have been his massive hit on running back Kennedy McKoy, a hit that warranted many Mountaineer players wanting a targeting call. It was by far the best overall performance for the junior of the 2016 season.