Bits and Bytes: TCU

An analysis of turnovers, the return game and TCU streaks anchor our last look at the Mountaineer - Horned Frog game. 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


TCU holds two current records in the area of kickoff returns. Can you name either one? Answer at the end of this column.


While many successful programs see their coaches move on to other schools, TCU has managed to avoid a major exodus. A handful has moved on to other destinations, but the Horned Frog staff includes six coaches who have been on staff for at least ten years.

One of those mentors, tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Dan Sharp, had three receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown for the Horned Frogs in their 31-14 loss to West Virginia in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl.


TCU has never lost three games in a row under current head coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs are currently on a two-game skid, having scored just a combined 17 points against Oklahoma State and Texas.


WVU has done well in generating turnovers, recovering 11 fumbles and picking off eight passes so far this year. The total of 19 puts the Mountaineers in a tie for 13th place nationally, but it hasn't resulted in nearly the number of wins one might expect.

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One of the problems is that WVU has given the ball away just as many times as it has taken it. The Mountaineers turnover total of 19 puts it 112th in the county, with just eight teams standing between them and the bottom of the rankings. WVU's turnovers – 11 fumbles and eight interceptions – exactly match its totals on the positive side of the ledger.

Second, West Virginia often hasn't been able to convert those turnovers into points. For a team challenged to score, the inability to take advantage of some of the short fields presented by those giveaways is another fatal flaw.

Can the importance of turnovers be overemphasized? While getting extra chances with the ball certainly can't be discounted, at times it seems like the emphasis of getting turnovers comes at the expense of all other things on the defensive side of the ball. Have West Virginia's players become more focused on stripping the ball than on proper positioning and execution? It's hard to make that statement definitively, because it's impossible to see inside the heads of Mountaineers defenders, but you have to wonder if it has an effect. Turnovers are important, and creating them should be (and is) coached), but players have to execute their base assignments too.


WVU has now worn all three of its helmets with its all-white jersey\pants combination – and all three have been losses. The Mountaineers dropped games to Oklahoma (white helmets), Baylor (blue) and Kansas State (gold). Does this mean anything? No. But from an unscientific survey of player responses, it's clear they like the white jersey\pants combination the best.


TCU figured to have one of the best defenders in the nation this year in the form of defensive lineman Devonte Fields, but an early suspension and a foot injury combined to knock him out of most of the 2013 season. That sort of loss would crush many defensive efforts, but into the fray stepped All-American Jason Verrett, who is making as many plays on the back end of the defense as Fields did up front.

Verrett has 33 tackles this year, with 3.5 of them coming behind the line. He also has two interceptions and 12 breakups, and those numbers would be much higher if more teams dared to throw at him. Since the start of last year, he has eight picks and 28 breakups.

Mountaineer fans with long memories will recall that Verrett blocked WVU's first overtime field goal attempt a year ago, which would have won the game for West Virginia.


The Frogs have not allowed kickoff return for a score since Sept. 1, 2003, when Tulane ran one back for six. One hundred thirty-four games have passed since that contest. Florida State is second, with 120 games without giving up a scoring return.

On the other side of the return game, TCU is the only school in the nation with three different players on its roster with a kickoff return for a TD. B.J. Catalon (2013) and Waymon James (2011) scored against LSU and Wyoming, respectively, while LaDarius Brown ran an SMU on-side kickoff attempt 45 yards to paydirt.

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