MORGANTOWN - It was back to the basics for senior offensive lineman Joe Madsen and his teammates during the No. 23 Mountaineers' off week and the focus was on fundamentals as WVU looks to break a two-game losing streak when unranked TCU invades Milan Puskar Stadium for the 3 p.m. Saturday start.
"With the bye week, that's all we focus on, just getting back to the fundamentals of the game, getting back to square one," said Madsen. "The bye week is a lot like camp, you're almost coming in to the first week again.
"It's kind of nice to get back into the film room and start studying."
What the Mountaineers' starting center, along with guards Josh Jenkins and Jeff Braun and tackles Quinton Spain and Nick Kindler, will be studying will be a Horned Frogs' defense that is talented, but is also surrendering 22.4 points and 333.1 yards per game.
"When Jeff (Braun) and I watched the film, we were focusing on how long their arms were," continued Madsen. "I was definitely envious because of my short arms. Luckily, I don't have to go against those guys. They're definitely good speed rushers who like to come off the ball."
The 'they' Madsen is talking about are ends Stansly Maponga and Devonte Fields.
TCU (5-3, 2-3 Big 12)
at No. 23 WVU
(5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
3 p.m. Saturday
Fields, only a freshman, is fourth on the team in total tackles with 36 (23 solo) and leads the team with 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Maponga, a junior, has 12 total tackles-2.5 for losses.
"They (TCU) are sound," said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen. "They play their scheme well. They coach their mentality well. They coach their alignment and techniques well."
But it is also a prevent unit that surrendered 56 points and 389 total yards in a 56-53 triple overtime loss to Texas Tech and 36 points and 471 total yards in last week's 36-14 loss to Oklahoma State.
"They match routes a lot," continued Holgorsen. "They will play man. Sometimes I get confused if it is man or zone because there are a lot of matching routes that go on that look like man. It is 50 percent man or 50 percent zone pressure. They are very sound in what they do."
That has not been the case with West Virginia's offensive front in its two losses this season.
After averaging nearly 600 yards and 55 points per game in its five straight wins to open the 2012 campaign, WVU offense was limited to 408 yards and 14 points in a 49-14 loss to Texas Tech-130 yards on the ground-and the situation didn't improve much against then-No. 4 Kansas State as the Wildcats held WVU to 155 yards through the air and 88 on the ground in pounding the old gold and blue 55-14 at Mountaineer Field.
Senior quarterback Geno Smith, the school's all-time leading passer, comes into Saturday's contest completing 217-of-292 attempts (74.3 percent) for 2,417 yards and 26 touchdowns.
His primary weapons have been senior Tavon Austin (74-788, 9 TD) and junior Stedman Bailey (59-800, 14 TD). Also look for senior J.D. Woods (37-372, 2 TD) to see plenty of passes come his way.
On the ground, senior Shawne Alton's status is still up in the air leaving sophomores Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison to carry the load. Buie leads the group with 553 yards and five touchdowns on 115 attempts while Garrison, the team's leading rusher a year ago, has amassed 138 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries since returning from knee surgery.
"We are pretty excited to get back to work here today and prepare for a good TCU football team and good football program coming into town this weekend," said Holgorsen. "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. They are coming off of a couple of tough losses. They are in a new conference.
"The quality of opponent is pretty good. They are playing a lot of young kids, and we are expecting them to get better and better over the course of the season."
* This marks the second meeting between WVU and TCU. West Virginia leads the series, 1-0, after the Mountaineers won 31-14, in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.
* The game will be televised locally on Fox with Craig Bolerjack doing the play-by-play, Joel Klatt the analysis and Petros Papadakis walking the sidelines.
* TCU is tied with Texas for having played the most true freshmen (16) in the nation this season.
* Twelve true freshmen have seen action for the Mountaineers in 2012. Eight redshirt freshmen have seen action for WVU this season as well.
* Geno Smith is No. 1 on the WVU career passing chart (9,874) and No. 2 in career total offense (10,121).
* Tavon Austin is WVU's career reception (248) and yardage (2,912) leader.
* Stedman Bailey is No. 1 on WVU's receiving touchdowns list for most in a season (14) and career (30).
* True freshman punter Ethan Perry's 47.2 average, which tops the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally, is on pace to break the TCU single-season record of 46.1 ypp.
* True freshman placekicker Jaden Oberkrom set TCU and Big 12 records and was one shy of an NCAA mark with six field goals against Texas Tech.
* Since 2002, West Virginia has been ranked in the Top 25 for 103 weeks, including 40 weeks in the Top 10.