As we enter week five of college football, it’s essential to look at the incredible feat before the Mountaineers. While the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs were in the National Championship the previous season, we’ve already seen some cracks in their foundation. Last year, the program was 13-0 before facing the Georgia Bulldogs on January 9, 2023. After losing to UGA 65-7, the Horned Frogs have started off the 2023 season 3-1, the same as WVU.
Will the Mountaineers get Hypnotized by the Horned Frogs?
The Mountaineers are coming off a win against Texas Tech a team they last beat in 2018. With a win like this, plus the first three-game win streak under Neal Brown, the team will be gunning for the runner-up of last season’s National Championship. On the downside, TCU has also won their last three games. The only loss the team has accrued is to Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes, who just suffered an embarrassing loss of 42-6 to Oregon. The opportunity to win is there, but the Mountaineer offense must step up big, and the defense must stay consistent.
Improvement Since Game 1
The Mountaineer defense has steadily improved since the 38-15 loss to Penn State. While the secondary has quite a few different athletes on the field at any given time, a few showed out in last Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Trey Lathan had two solo tackles, six assists, and one forced fumble. Davoan Hawkins had one solo tackle but managed a sack for a loss of six yards for the Red Raiders.
Marcis Floyd accrued two solo and one assist but managed a sack that cost Texas Tech 14 yards. Lee Kpogba, Aubrey Burks, Anthony Wilson, and Edward Vesterinen each had seven total tackles, making that 28 tackles between the four of them. While the defense has improved significantly, they did falter after halftime and late in the fourth quarter.
Moving deeper into the season, the secondary will have to work out the consistency issues in order to have a chance at competing in the Big 12. Besides things that need to be worked on, the defense carried the team toward victory. The offense struggled extensively during the first half. The game could have had a much different outcome if it hadn’t been for the Mountaineers defense.
Compared to the stats from Penn State, the ability to refrain from unnecessary penalties has improved. We had three penalties for 20 yards against the Red Raiders, while they had a whopping six for 48 yards.
Things That Need to be Worked On
While there have been improvements, there have also been setbacks. With Garrett Greene hurt and Nicco Marchiol starting, it has been plain to see some of the issues that can arise from your starting quarterback getting hurt. Marchiol struggled in the first half against Texas Tech. He was 12 for 21 with a 57.1% completion rate and two interceptions for 78 yards total. He also had 15 rushing attempts for 72 yards. While this isn’t the worst, it could be better. The longer Greene is out, the less Marchiol will be able to receive the benefit of the doubt.
Looking at TCU’s quarterback, Chandler Morris, stats from their recent game against Southern Methodist University, WVU could be in trouble. Morris was 24 for 33 with a 72% completion rate, 265 passing yards, and three touchdowns. While the Mountaineer defense has been able to hold the opposing offense in the previous three games, but without improvement to the offense it could be a long season.
In addition to things that need to be worked on, the Mountaineer offense struggled with third-down conversions. With a stat line of three for 13 when it came down to it last weekend, it’s not a good look for WVU. Another area of struggle stems from the wide receivers. Kole Taylor showed out with three receptions for 39 yards and one touchdown. The only other receiver who came close to this was Preston Fox with one reception for 15 yards.