Mountaineers Earn Their Fifth Win
After a close and hard-fought loss in Austin, West Virginia returned home to face the TCU Horned Frogs. Led by a balanced and efficient attack on all three sides of the balls, the Mountaineers earn their fifth win of the season.
Leddie Brown Returns to Form
After playing through an injury last week and coming up well short of his season average, Leddie Brown returned to form. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit in this one. They opened plenty of holes and controlled the edges, and Brown seized the opportunities. Brown finished with 156 yards on 24 carries, averaging six-and-a-half yards per carry. He added a reception for eight yards as well. Brown had several long runs after contact. Indeed, two of those long rumbles came on third down and proved pivotal to the final outcome.
The improved run game shows up in the box score, as the Mountaineers outgained TCU by 46 yards on the ground. As a result of the run game (the Mountaineers dialed up runs on 55% of their plays), West Virginia controlled the clock. They had almost a nine-minute advantage in time of possession. This identity is something Head Coach Neal Brown has focused on since arriving in Morgantown. They executed it well today.
Passing Game Cleans Up Mistakes
This season, we repeat the following criticism often: the passers and catchers have not been on the same page at various critical moments. At times, Jarret Doege has consistently misfired. And when he overcame those issues, his receivers were dropping passes routinely. Indeed, dropped passes proved to be one of the differences in the outcome last week as the receivers dropped two would-be touchdown passes, one late in the fourth quarter.
This week, however, Doege was in sync with his receivers, and his receivers did not let him down. The official statistics might show a single drop, but even that was a heavily contested throw to Bryce Ford-Wheaton that is hard to blame on anyone. Sometimes, the coverage is just good. That was one such play.
In total, Doege completed 73% of his 26 passes and racked up 212 yards as well as two touchdowns on a day when the Mountaineers focused more on offensive efficiency and less on piling up yards. T.J. Simmons led all receivers with 90 yards on four catches, with two touchdowns. Winston Wright added 47 yards on six catches. And Sean Ryan also caught four passes for 31 yards.
Defensive Intensity Continues
The story of the season for West Virginia has really been its defense. They are a top 10 unit in the country overall, and they held their own today. TCU managed just 295 total yards, and West Virginia held the Horned Frogs out of the end zone the entire game. That might not seem significant to some, as TCU falls to 3-4 on the season. But this is the first time TCU has failed to score a touchdown in four years.
West Virginia continued its streak of holding opposing passers under 200 yards. While fans do not often talk about the West Virginia secondary as a whole, that is for good reason. The Mountaineers have solid players on all levels of the defense, and the secondary gels the unit together nicely. Without their consistently solid coverage, the front certainly has less freedom to dial up pressure. Today, the secondary performed admirably again. Nicktroy Fortune and Dreshun Miller continued their improved play at the corner position. Meanwhile, Sean Mahone made some great plays (including a fumble recovery on special teams), and Tykee Smith came up with a game-sealing interception in the red zone late in the fourth quarter.
Akheem Mesidor continues to be a bright spot on the defensive line, as he came up with his team-leading fifth sack of the season. Tony Fields led the team (again) with 13 solo tackles. Overall, the unit played well and certainly helped the Mountaineers earn their fifth win.
Even though we would not exactly call the result a blowout victory based on the score alone, fans watching know the real story. The game was not nearly as close as the final score suggests. Unfortunately, the Mountaineers extended a TCU drive with a roughing the punter penalty after an effective three-and-out series. The difference amounted to a TCU field goal, so the defense minimized the damage. But the offense committed several drive-stalling penalties that unfortunately kept points off the board for the Mountaineers. In total, West Virginia drew 10 penalties for 85 yards. This has been a continuing problem for the Mountaineers, and it remains something they need to clean up. Nonetheless, if this is the only criticism we can offer West Virginia this week (and it is), the Mountaineers find themselves in a good spot going into their second scheduled bye week of the season.