Musings, Matchups and More: TCU Edition

West Virginia has to make quantum gains in several areas if it hopes to upset TCU -- and that's a difficult task at this time of the year. Game Scorecard
Sat 11/2 3:30 PM ET

Fort Worth, TX

Amon G. Carter Stadium
Record: 3-5/1-4

Last Game
Kansas St 35-12 L
Sirius/XM: 134/191
Record: 3-5/1-4

Last Game
Texas 7-30 L
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2013 Schedule

Series: Tied 1-1

First Meeting: 1984
Last Meeting: 2012
Press Release
Season Stats
2013 Schedule


A week ago, WVU seemed to be focusing on getting the ball to Charles Sims in the first half. While he wasn't breaking off huge gainers, he was able to move the ball some, and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and eight yards per reception to date. Given that he's by far WVU's most consistent offensive weapon, shouldn't he get a full-game workload this week?

There are a couple of things that might stop that from happening. First, Sims got just a few touches in the second half against K-State, and he was spotted limping on at least one occasion. If he's hurt, that could cut down his utilization. Second, TCU is excellent against the run, allowing just 3.2 yards per rush, so it's not as if WVU can expect to gash the Horned Frogs for consistent gains.

Still, after a season of offense that has range from o.k to horrendous, what choices do the Mountaineers have? Kevin White has continued to take small steps toward being a more productive and consistent threat, but other than that there just isn;t anyone on the offensive side that causes opposing defenses to worry. If Sims is healthy, he needs to get the ball. Thirty total touches shouldn't be out of the question.

* * *

What has happened to TCU quarterback Casey Pachall? Granted, the senior has had a bad time of it over the last year and a half, suffering through an eight-game suspension in 2012 and then breaking a bone in his arm earlier this season, but those things appear to have affected him more than just physically.

After passing for 2,921 yards as a sophomore and completing 66.5% of his passes, he has thrown for just 314 yards while connecting on only 46.9% this year. As West Virginia observers know, low completion percentages aren't solely the fault of the quarterback, but Pachall was TCU's career completion percentage leader coming into this year by a wide margin, and now he's just 2.3 percentage points ahead of Andy Dalton, who preceded him as the Frogs' starter.

If he plays against WVU, the Mountaineers must keep him in those doldrums and ot let him regain the rhythm that made him the Big 12 preseason first team quarterback selection.


Six is the number -- at least the hoped for gaol -- for both teams in this match-up on the bowl periphery.

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At 3-5, both squads need to double thier win total to get into a bowl, and the loser of this game is going to have a very difficult time reaching that number. That's the obvious part. What's not so clear is how West Virginia will respond to that challenge.

It's not as if the Mountaineers aren't putting forth effort. This isn't an echo of the 2012-13 basketball team, which was shattered by selfishness and internal conflict. Instead, to be blunt, West Virginia just isn't that good. It appeared to have at least enough talent to make a run at seven or eight wins, but after two-thirds of the season has elapsed, it's apparent that the pieces just aren't there to mount consistent winning efforts.

When faced with such a situation, the only sort of team that can salvage success is one that fights extremely hard, maximizes the chances it does get and doesn't kill itself with critical mistakes. None of those attributes can be applied to this years team to date, and it's not often that a group can pull itself out of such doldrums and put together a late push. Again, this isn't to say that this year's team hasn't tried. For the most part, it has. However, it doens't have that extra push, that extra something that results in a big one-on-one play that can turn the game.

The only contest in which that came even remotely close to occuring was the Oklahoma State game, but an honest look there reveals a ton of mistakes by the Cowboys, including three that erased potential touchdowns. While WVU did compete well, it didn't play any better than it did against Oklahoma or in the first halves of the Texas Tech and Kansas State games. The Cowboys simply shot themselves in the foot one too many times.

If West Virginia plays its best game, and doesn't enter the second half as if it's a candidate for a Dale Canegie class, it could pull the upset. Expecting that to happen, though, is about as tenuous as picking the Mountaineers to reach this week's target number.


I'm going a bit outside the beer realm this week to spotlight the range of Woodchuck Hard Ciders -- and specifically their raspberry small batch. I've had these as a change of pace in the past, but had the chance to grab a few more while in Manhattan last week for the Kansas State game. In a great little pub called the Keltic Star, a nice range of Woodchuck offerings were available, including their crisp and amber styles.

If raspberry isn't your flavor, peach and pear, along with four seasonal pressings, are also on the menu from the Vermont-based company. Woodchucks also make nice blends for those that might not like the full on cider flavor, but are looking for a crisp addition to one of their favorite wheat or dark beers.

Ir you are looking for a change of pace, Woodchuck is a good one -- and it blows commercial knockoffs out of the water. I'm hoping that this different slant helps the football team break out of its rut this weekend.


TCU's defense is very strong, as it can shut down the run and swoop on opposing pass routes to grabe momentum-changing turnovers. Given West Virginia's offensive struggles, how can the Mountaineer hope to score enough points to win?

In this game, WVU may have to rely on field position and turnover avoidance to generate any chance of an upset. The Mountaineers do hold an advantage in net punting, and while WVU's punt return team counts just catching the ball as a plus performance, the Frogs are yielding nearly 16 yards per punt return. West Virginia has to take advantage of these areas and produce extra yards on special teams.

It also cannot throw the ball to the Horned Frogs. TCU has 15 interceptions this year, and features a secondary without a weak spot. Seven different Frogs have at least one interception this year, demonstrating the depth of their pass coverage. West Virginia will have to have its best game of the year in terms of decision -making and execution in the passing game, otherwise it will trudge home with another road loss.

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