The TCU Horned Frogs will finish out the regular season on Black Friday against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
TCU needs a win to make a bowl game, while the Mountaineers would love to end the year with a win and build momentum heading into the second year under their new head coach.
Here are five things TCU fans need to know about West Virginia.
New coach, similar philosophy
West Virginia and longtime head coach Dana Holgorsen parted ways in the offseason, as Holgorsen took the head job with the Houston Cougars. The Mountaineers swiped Troy head coach Neal Brown to replace Holgorsen.
Brown was one of the most highly touted Group of 5 coaches with Troy. He won at least 10 games in three straight seasons and beat LSU in 2017. His pedigree is steeped in the Air Raid offense — Brown played for the University of Kentucky under Air Raid founder Hal Mumme and his offensive coordinator, former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach.
Brown was the offensive coordinator for the Red Raiders from 2010-12. TCU head coach Gary Patterson said the Frogs have been watching film of Brown’s Texas Tech offense instead of his teams at Troy.
The Mountaineers ran versions of the Air Raid under Holgorsen, and Brown was a natural replacement at West Virginia. While it’s not an exact switch, the Mountaineers will be back to their high-scoring selves once Brown gets his system up and running.
Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall started the season at quarterback for the Mountaineers. Kendall had a massive hole to fill, as previous quarterback Will Grier was an outstanding player and was selected in the NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers.
But Kendall didn’t deliver on expectations early in the season. He completed 61.5% of his passes and averaged 6.5 yards per attempt. He threw 12 touchdowns against a concerning 10 interceptions. West Virginia elected to make a quarterback change, subbing in Jarret Doege midway through the Texas Tech game.
Doege, who played his first two seasons at Bowling Green, is the brother of former Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who played under Brown. So far this year, the younger Doege has thrown five touchdowns and no picks and has led West Virginia to an upset over a then-ranked Kansas State team.
Patterson and TCU linebacker Garret Wallow both said the West Virginia offense has looked better under Doege. And with such little film to work with, the Mountaineers’ new man may be difficult to gameplan for.
Not much ground game
Brown’s background has made him predisposed to prefer the pass, and that’s the mindset he’s brought to West Virginia. Per the WVU media guide, the Mountaineers have passed on 57.2% of their plays this season. They’re averaging 256.9 yards per game through the air and 72.1 yards per game running.
West Virginia has had five players run more than 10 times this season, and none of those players are averaging more than 3.5 yards per rush. Leddie Brown leads the team with 320 yards on 92 attempts. The Mountaineers have scored just seven times on the ground.
TCU’s run defense is its strength, but the Frogs won’t have to deploy it often. West Virginia will try to pass as much as possible, and the TCU secondary will have to be on high alert all game long.
Some stars on defense
The switch in quarterbacks seems to have somehow affected West Virginia’s defense in the last two games, as well. The Mountaineers allowed 20 points to both Kansas State and Oklahoma State. West Virginia is physical up front and has a few individual playmakers that can affect games.
Darius and Dante Stills are tied with seven sacks, the fourth-most in the Big 12. Keith Washington II has three interceptions, the fifth-most in the conference.
But for the most part, West Virginia is an average defense. The Frogs had trouble moving the ball against Oklahoma last week. If TCU plays even slightly better, the Frogs should be able to have success against the Mountaineers.
Brown has done a fine job in his first year with the Mountaineers. It’s hard to judge West Virginia by its record this year, because — like TCU — so many players are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.
Ten true freshmen and 12 redshirt freshmen have seen the field for West Virginia this season. Of that group, 10 have started at least one game. Brown is laying the groundwork for the future, and he’d love to get his young players some confidence with a win against a hungry TCU team Friday.