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TCU Horned Frogs vs. West Virginia Mountaineers: Complete Game Preview

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIOctober 23, 2016

TCU Horned Frogs vs. West Virginia Mountaineers: Complete Game Preview

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    The two Big 12 Conference newcomers—West Virginia and TCU—will finally square off on Saturday in Morgantown.

    WVU and TCU haven't played since the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl, as the Mountaineers took the only meeting between the schools 31-14.

    Both teams are in desperate need of a turnaround after they each dropped their last two contests.

    West Virginia hasn't lost three straight games since the 2004 season, in which the Mountaineers dropped their last three games including a New Year's Day loss to Florida State in the Gator Bowl.

    Meanwhile, TCU hasn't dropped three straight since 1998, back when current head coach Gary Patterson was the defensive coordinator.

    One of those two statements will no longer be true on Saturday night, as the loser will continue its slide and the winner will attain bowl eligibility.

    Here's what you can expect from Saturday's matchup between West Virginia and TCU.

Gameday Information

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    Texas Christian at No. 21 West Virginia | Big 12 Conference Game

    When: Saturday, Nov. 3 | 3:05 p.m. EDT kickoff

    Where: Milan Puskar Stadium (60,000) | Morgantown, W. Va.

    TV: Fox (Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt, Petros Papadakis) | Broadcast begins 3 p.m. EDT

    Radio: Mountaineer TV | Frog Vision | Sirius 138/XM 203 (WVU)

    Live Stream: No official live stream available

    Live Stats: WVU Gametracker | TCU Gametracker

    Game Notes: WVU | TCU 

     

West Virginia Depth Chart

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    Offense

    QB: Geno Smith, 12 (Sr.)

    Paul Millard, 14 (r-Fr.)

    WR (X): Stedman Bailey, 3 (r-Jr.)

    Ivan McCartney, 5 (Jr.)

    IR (H): Travares Copeland, 2 (Fr.)

    Dante Campbell, 15 (r-Fr.)

    LT: Quinton Spain, 67 (r-So.)

    Curtis Feigt, 62 (r-Jr.)

    LG: Josh Jenkins, 77 (r-Sr.)

    Quinton Spain, 67 (r-So.)

    C: Joe Madsen, 74 (r-Sr.)

    John Bassler, 60 (r-Sr.)

    RG: Jeff Braun, 57 (r-Sr.)

    Pat Eger, 76 (r-Jr.)

    RT: Nick Kindler, 79 (r-Jr.)

    Pat Eger, 76 (r-Jr.)

    IR (Y): Tavon Austin, 1 (Sr.)

    Jordan Thompson, 10 (Fr.)

    WR (Z): J.D. Woods, 81 (r-Sr.)

    Devonte Robinson, 85 (Fr.)

    RB (A): Ryan Clarke, 32 (r-Sr.)

    Cody Clay, 88 (r-Fr.)

    RB (B): Shawne Alston, 20 (Sr.)

    Andrew Buie, 13 (So.)

    Dustin Garrison, 29 (So.)

     

    Defense (3-4)

    DT: Jorge Wright, 99 (r-Sr.)

    Eric Kinsey, 45 (Fr.)

    NT: Shaq Rowell, 90 (Jr.)

    Christian Brown, 95 (Fr.)

    DE: Will Clarke, 98 (r-Jr.)

    Kyle Rose, 93 (r-Fr.)

    BUCK: Josh Francis, 4 (Sr.)

    Shaq Petteway, 36 (So.)

    STAR: Terence Garvin, 28 (Sr.)

    Wes Tonkery, 37 (r-So.)

    WILL: Doug Rigg, 47 (Jr.)

    Jared Barber, 33 (So.)

    SAM: Isaiah Bruce, 31 (r-Fr.)

    Nick Kwiatkoski, 35 (r-Fr.)

    FCB: Nana Kyeremeh, 7 (Fr.)

    Ricky Rumph, 41 (Fr.)

    FS: Karl Joseph, 8 (Fr.)

    Ishmael Banks, 34 (r-So.)

    BS: Darwin Cook, 25 (r-Jr.)

    K.J. Dillon, 9 (Fr.)

    BCB: Pat Miller, 6 (Sr.)

    Cecil Level, 24 (r-Sr.)

     

    Special Teams

    K: Tyler Bitancurt, 40 (r-Sr.)

    Corey Smith, 44 (r-Sr.)

    P: Corey Smith, 44 (r-Sr.)

    Michael Molinari, 48 (r-So.)

    KO: Corey Smith, 44 (r-Sr.)

    Tyler Bitancurt, 40 (r-Sr.)

    LS: John DePalma, 87 (Fr.)

    Jerry Cooper, 86 (r-So.)

    PR: Tavon Austin, 1 (Sr.)

    Jordan Thompson, 10 (Fr.)

    KR: Tavon Austin, 1 (Sr.)

    Stedman Bailey, 3 (r-Jr.)

TCU Depth Chart

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    Offense

    LT: Tayo Fabuluje, 59 (So.)

    Halapoulivaati Vaitai, 74 (Fr.)

    LG: Eric Tausch, 73 (Jr.)

    Joey Hunt, 56 (Fr.)

    C: James Fry, 64 (Sr.)

    Joey Hunt, 56 (Fr.)

    RG: Blaize Foltz, 66 (Sr.)

    John Wooldridge, 75 (Jr.)

    RT: Aviante Collins, 69 (Fr.)

    Halapoulivaati Vaitai, 74 (Fr.)

    TE: Corey Fuller, 86 (Sr.)

    Griffin Gilbert, 87 (Fr.)

    Cliff Murphy, 43 (So.)

    TB: Matthew Tucker, 29 (Sr.)

    B.J. Catalon, 23 (Fr.)

    Aundre Dean, 30 (Sr.)

    QB: Trevone Boykin, 2 (r-Fr.)

    Matt Brown, 10 (So.)

    WR: Josh Boyce, 82 (Jr.)

    Cam White, 88 (So.)

    WR: LaDarius Brown, 85 (r-Fr.)

    Kolby Listenbee, 7 (Fr.)

    WR: Skye Dawson, 11 (Sr.)

    David Porter, 14 (Fr.)

    WR: Brandon Carter, 3 (So.)

    David Bush, 15 (r-Fr.)

     

    Defense

    LE: Stansly Maponga, 90 (Jr.)

    James McFarland, 40 (Fr.)

    DT: Chucky Hunter, 96 (So.)

    Jon Lewis, 98 (So.)

    DT: Davion Pierson, 57 (r-Fr.)

    David Johnson, 53 (So.)

    Terrell Lathan, 99 (Fr.)

    RE: Devonte Fields, 95 (Fr.)

    Jon Koontz, 97 (Jr.)

    MLB: Joel Hasley, 36 (So.)

    Paul Dawson, 47 (So.)

    Antonio Graves, 19 (So.)

    SLB: Kenny Cain, 51 (Sr.)

    Antonio Graves, 19 (So.)

    SS: Sam Carter, 17 (So.)

    Derrick Kindred, 26 (Fr.)

    Jordan Moore, 4 (Fr.)

    FS: Elisha Olabode, 6 (Jr.)

    Geoff Hooker, 28 (So.)

    WS: Chris Hackett, 1 (r-Fr.)

    Jonathan Anderson, 41 (So.)

    Trent Thomas, 23 (Jr.)

    CB: Jason Verrett, 2 (Jr.)

    Deante' Gray, 20 (Fr.)

    CB: Kevin White, 25 (So.)

    Jason Verrett, 2 (Jr.)

     

    Special Teams

    PK: Jaden Oberkom, 33 (Fr.)

    KO: Jaden Oberkom, 33 (Fr.)

    SN: Daniel Shelley, 50 (Sr.)

    P: Ethan Perry, 37 (Fr.)

    KR: Skye Dawson, 11 (Sr.)

    Josh Boyce, 82 (Jr.)

    PR: Skye Dawson, 11 (Sr.)

    Deante' Gray, 20 (Fr.)

What Happened to WVU Last Week

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    West Virginia had its second bye week of the season last week, which couldn't have come at a better time.

    The Mountaineers are currently on a two-game skid in which they have been outscored 104-28. 

    Most recently, we saw Kansas State thump West Virginia in Morgantown.

    Behind their stingy, disciplined defense and an outstanding effort from senior quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats came into a hostile night environment at Milan Puskar Stadium and put a whipping on the Mountaineers.

    Defensive issues were a given for this team, but even the vaunted WVU offense was slowed to a halt in its previous two games.

    Once the Heisman Trophy favorite, now West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is simply looking to steer his team back onto a winning track after the two losses put his team at 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12.

What Happened to TCU Last Week

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    TCU will enter Morgantown on a skid of its own.

    A week ago, the Horned Frogs started strong on the road against Oklahoma State, opening up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. However, the Cowboys stormed back, putting the next 36 points on the board to trounce TCU 36-14.

    Two weeks ago, the Horned Frogs dropped a triple-overtime heartbreaker 56-53 at home to Texas Tech, despite netting their second-highest point total of the season.

    TCU has been playing the last month without its starting quarterback Casey Pachall, who left school to enter drug and alcohol treatment in early October (via USAToday.com).

    The consecutive losses dropped TCU to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12.

What This Game Means for Both Teams

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    With five wins apiece, neither TCU nor WVU are currently bowl eligible.

    In that regard, this game is much more important for the Horned Frogs, who have four ranked teams remaining on their schedule, including undefeated Kansas State.

    West Virginia still plays Kansas—a team that is winless in the Big 12—as well as unranked Iowa State.

    As for the Big 12 pecking order, both teams must win to stay relevant in the race for a respectable bowl bid.

    Both squads are out of contention for the conference crown but can still salvage a prestigious bowl bid by picking up some wins down the stretch—that process begins this weekend in Morgantown.

Key Player for WVU: QB Geno Smith

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    The West Virginia defense has struggled all year long. Still, the Mountaineers managed to win their first five games thanks to the play of Smith.

    However, the senior struggled in the last two games, as WVU posted just 14 points in each of its two losses.

    WVU can't depend on magically turning things around on the defensive side in one off week, so  for this team to get back to their winning ways, Smith will have to find a way to get back on track.

    The Miramar, Florida native still leads the nation in completion percentage, connecting on nearly 75 percent of his passes, even after consecutive underwhelming performances.

    Against Kansas State, he threw his first interception since Dec. 1 of last year against South Florida, then he went ahead and threw another. Still, the Heisman hopeful boasts a 13:1 interception ratio on the year.

    He'll need to avoid throwing interceptions against TCU, as the Horned Frogs currently rank No. 4 in the nation with 15 picks on the year.

Key Player for TCU: QB Trevone Boykin

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    The blueprint for beating West Virginia is not a mystery.

    The Mountaineers' passing defense is currently dead last in the nation , allowing an absurd 360 yards per game through the air.

    Nearly every quarterback that has squared off with WVU has ended up posting a career game, and Trevone Boykin will try to be the next.

    The redshirt freshman will also look to hurt West Virginia with his legs, much like Collin Klein of Kansas State did two weeks ago. Klein ran for 41 yards and four touchdowns to go with his 300-yard passing performance in the win.

    Like Smith, Boykin will also look to avoid turnovers.

    Just 1-3 as a starter, the Mesquite, Texas native was interception-free in his only win, but averaged two interceptions in his three losses since replacing Pachall.

WVU on TCU

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    WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen on the TCU football program:

    I have a lot of respect for coach Gary Patterson and what he has accomplished at TCU. He has won something like 85 percent of his games there. They have coaches that are used to winning. They have players and a fan base that are used to winning.

    Holgorsen on the TCU offense:

    Offensively, they pose a lot of problems. (Trevone Boykin) is a dual threat guy that is dangerous with his feet. He has some weapons around him. The receivers that they have are guys that could have gone to other quality, quality programs. They do a tremendous job of distributing the ball to a bunch of different people.

    Holgorsen on the TCU defense:

    Gary’s defenses have been very good. They are giving up more points and yards than they would like. Everyone is complaining and asking what is wrong, but they are doing a good job of staying true to their schemes and coaching their kids up. I think they have one senior playing for them on defense. They have younger, inexperienced guys that play hard. They play with tremendous passion, and this year is no different. It is the same stuff. It is the same schemes and the same effort. They are playing some pretty good people. 

    Geno Smith on bouncing back from consecutive losses:

    It’s not the end of the world - we’ve lost two games. It’s something that we don’t want to ever want to happen, but you have to play the cards you’re dealt with. Right now we are in the situation where we just have to win. 

    Linebacker Jared Barber on the TCU offense:

    Their quarterback can sling the ball. He’s a really athletic and a tough kid. They’ve got good playmakers on the outside. I think they’re going to try a sling it around a little bit. They’re fast and athletic. Upfront, they’re athletic. I think passing will be what they’re going to try and focus on with us.

     

    Coach Quotes

    Player Quotes

TCU on WVU

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    TCU head coach Gary Patterson on playing WVU:

    It's a big ballgame going into West Virginia. Both of us came into the Big 12 this year and are on the same path. We understand what we have to do. One of those things would be to get healthy, but that probably isn't happening for a couple of weeks. We have to get ready to play. It's a great venue in Morgantown, and they have great fans and some really good players.

    Patterson on Geno Smith:

    He is the all-time leading passer at West Virginia. They have been running the offense a long time. He is very athletic, can make all the throws and has a lot of weapons on their offense.

    Patterson on slowing down Tavon Austin: 

    Other people have slowed him down a little bit. He's not faster than Terrance WIlliams and Tevin Reese from Baylor—they're both really fast. All three are draft-choice type people. The best way to slow him down is for him to not have it in his hands. Don't kick to him, don't punt to him, try to not let them throw it to him. They do a lot of things where he can get the ball in his hands, you have to be good tacklers.

    Patterson on the atmosphere at WVU:

    Everybody knows they love their football there. That is what you want. You want to play in front of a fan base that loves football. I think that is why they have been good there. When football is really important, it will be good. It has been good there all the way back to Coach (Don) Nehlen. They play better at home. I think, like us, they are finding out a lot about playing on the road in this league. If you don't bring your own energy, you can get in trouble real fast.

     

    Patterson Quotes

WVU Will Win If...

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    West Virginia will win if it can establish a balanced offense.

    Last week, the Mountaineers faced large early deficits, forcing them to be one-dimensional to play keep up.

    Fortunately, starting running back Shawne Alston is expected to return this week from a thigh bruise sustained early in the year. He'll add another dimension all of his own with his power running style.

    The senior was the team's leading rusher when he went out, so WVU will be glad to have him back.

    WVU will also have to put the ball in the hands of Tavon Austin as early and often as possible. He has been the most consistent performer for the Mountaineers through their two losses—don't expect that to change.

    Defensively, the Mountaineers must come up with a few timely stops and force turnovers. 

    The key here will be the pass rush and forcing the freshman Boykin to beat them through the air.

TCU Will Win If...

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    TCU will win if it can force WVU to be offensively predictable.

    Both Texas Tech and Kansas State established early leads against West Virginia, forcing it to work from behind. As a result, the WVU offense became predictable, making it much easier to stop.

    The Horned Frogs must follow this blueprint and try to take the Morgantown crowd out of the game early. KSU did just this and the stadium was empty by the end of the third quarter.

    Of course, Boykin and TCU must also avoid mistakes, as previously mentioned.

    If he can avoid interceptions, he should be able to establish a rhythm against a weak passing defense.

    West Virginia hasn't proven to be great at stopping the opposition, so if the Horned Frogs can manage a few more stops than the Mountaineers, they should be able to pull off the road upset.

Prediction

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    West Virginia will look across the field on Saturday afternoon and be very happy that Arthur Brown and Kansas State aren't the ones staring back.

    TCU's young defense is nowhere near as talented, disciplined or stingy as that of KSU—which will allow the WVU offense to regain its rhythm.

    There is little doubt that the Horned Frogs will score on the WVU defense, but will they be able to keep up?

    At home with an extra week of preparation, West Virginia clears its head and remembers how it scored 70 points against Baylor a month ago.

     

    Prediction: WVU 49, TCU 45

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