MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: WVU grabs dominant victory
The West Virginia Mountaineers parlayed a solid running attack and a smothering defense into a convincing 24-6 win over TCU Saturday.
The Mountaineers first possession of the game began on their own one-yard line but they efficiently drove 99 yards in 15 plays for a score, spanning half of the first quarter clock. To begin the second half WVU went on another seven-minute drive leading to a field goal to take a two touchdown lead. On many occasions earlier in the season, we saw the offense struggle running the football and commit mistakes that often prevented success. But what we observed in Morgantown this weekend demonstrated how effective this offense can be when able to run for 180 yards with zero turnovers and minimal mistakes.
While admittedly 24 points doesn’t constitute an offensive explosion, with the West Virginia defense playing well it is often going to be enough to secure a victory. The approach is no longer designed to simply outscore Big 12 opponents with a fast strike offense reminiscent of the Will Grier quarterback years, but to instead control the pace of the game, take care of the football, and rely on good defensive play.
The Mountaineers converted 8 of their first 11 third down attempts. Relying mostly on a short passing game quarterback Jarret Doege completed 19 of 26 passes for 212 yards, a very good 8.2 yards per pass attempt. The offense was seldom in a “hurry up” mode, but instead took a more deliberate approach. As a result, while in in college football the average number of possessions for each team is nearly 14 per game and the number of plays generally is in the 70s and often many more, WVU and TCU each ran only 63 plays on 10 possession Saturday.
The defense kept TCU out of the end zone, the first time the Horned Frogs have failed to score a touchdown in a Big 12 game since 2016. Tony Fields II, a grad transfer from Arizona, continued his exceptional play and has become the best player on the WVU defensive unit.
Alonzo Addae, a New Hampshire transfer, also stood out. While only garnering one sack, the defensive line pressured the TCU quarterback often. Tykee Smith picked off a fourth quarter interception to end a TCU scoring threat.
Much emphasis was placed upon special teams due to the Frogs being outstanding in that phase of play. With the exception of a roughing the kicker penalty in the first quarter the West Virginia special teams were solid. They grabbed a turnover of their own, recovering a muffed punt early in the fourth quarter which enabled the Mountaineer to take advantage of good field position to score a touchdown to seal the win.
West Virginia has an off next Saturday, and will look forward to hosting Oklahoma in the home finale on November 28th.