WVU to face tough TCU defense

MORGANTOWN-Facing the possibility of a four-game losing streak, things don’t get any easier for head coach Dana Holgorsen and his West Virginia University Mountaineers as they travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to face a TCU team that returns preseason All-Big 12 quarterback Casey Pachall and leads the conference in quarterback sacks.

“Looking at the TCU Horned Frogs, in preparation for this week’s game, the first thing I think about with TCU, with this being my fifth opportunity to go against coach Gary Patterson, is defense with his football teams,” Holgorsen said. “They are in a similar situation as West Virginia with this being their second year in the conference.

“Right now, we are both 3-5. It’s going to be challenging. Last year, I think we both went 7-5. The Big 12 is challenging as we are figuring out. When you think about TCU, it’s all about defense, they are really good on defense.”

Not good news for a Mountaineer offense that managed only 12 points and 367 yards of total offense in a 35-12 loss at Kansas State last weekend.

“They (TCU) do a great job of rushing the passer,” Holgorsen continued. “Their secondary matches routes and covers as well as I’ve ever seen it. The quarterback has to sit back there with nowhere to throw and the rush gets there.

“John Koontz played against us last year and gave us fits. The guys on the inside are good with Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson. Those guys do a tremendous job of holding their gaps in the run game, but also understanding when it’s a run, pass or screen and coming up the field. They have capable people doing it and they get to the quarterback well. That pass coverage in the back is something special as well.”

Fortunately, WVU will be going into Amon G. Carter Stadium with its quarterback shuffle in the past.

“On offense, the key is that they’re finally getting settled in at quarterback,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “Every week they’ve been getting better. Defensively, they’ve been very physical.”

Quarterbacking the Mountaineers (3-5, 1-2 Big 12) will be Florida State transfer Clint Trickett. The junior completed 15-of-28 attempts for 227 yards and scored WVU’s only touchdown in a 35-12 loss to KSU on a 6-yard run in the second quarter.

But it was his fourth quarter fumble that earned him a spot on the sideline while junior Paul Millard (4-of-14, 37 yards, 1 INT) finished the game.

“It (the rushing touchdown) was awful if you watched it on film,” Trickett said. “I did a half-slide, half-fall. Ford (Childress) was busting my chops for it. I was a little dazed after the play, so I really didn’t get to cherish it much.”

The former-backup quarterback for the Seminoles will have more than his running style to worry about when he faces a Horned Frogs prevent unit that has sacked opposing quarterbacks 24 times this season for a loss of 163 yards.

“Coach Gary Patterson has been the same for as long as he’s been there,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. “He’s probably one of the best defensive minds out there in the country. It’s the same as we saw last year. You can consider them similar to us with where they’re at.

“They’ve been in every game and they’ve had the chances to win the games, but they have just been losing. We are similar teams, but offensively we need to score more points in order to win. We can’t score 12 points and beat many people. Same with last week with Kansas State-you know where they are going to line up, they won’t try to trick you at all.

“Gary Patterson isn’t going to come in with a different scheme every time. It comes down to execution. Hopefully, we can do a better job this week; we need to prepare better and get the players ready to play.”

One of those that may be critical to the team’s success offensively is center Pat Eger. Eger missed most of the KSU game after sustaining a leg injury in the first quarter.

“Pat (Eger) left in the first quarter, which hurt us,” the head coach explained. “He’s a guy we lean on. Tyler (Orlosky) did do a good job with coming in and playing. I was proud about how he came in and played and got three quarters of work out from him. We need Pat in there though. (Pat) coming out of the game in the first quarter is difficult, but I am proud with how Tyler came in and played. Pat will be day-to-day.”

If Eger is unable to play, Orlosky will be the likely replacement at center-putting more pressure on an offensive front that has surrendered 16 sacks this season and was limited to 103 yards of rushing on 29 attempts.

“I don’t think we executed well all game-I think that was kind of masked by the fact that the defense played well,” said Dawson. “We got down near the red zone twice and didn’t score. We are big on finishing drives and finish everything. There’s a million different factors of why we didn’t execute. To say we executed for three quarters would be a lie, as we only scored 12 points.”

  • Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. (EST) start will be WVU’s first visit to Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • The game will be televised on ESPNU with Anish Shroff doing the play-by-play and Dan Hawkins handling the analysis.
  • The series is knotted at 1-1 following TCU’s 39-38 double-overtime win in Morgantown last year. The two teams first met in the 1984 Bluebonnett Bowl with the Mountaineers capturing a 31-14 decision.
  • WVU is 0-4 on the road this year and have not won away from Milan Puskar Stadium since a victory at Iowa State last November.
  • Clint Trickett has started the last four games, earning the most quarterback starts in 2013. He has completed 75-of-151 passes for 951 yards and three touchdowns, with a long of 50 yards in the loss at Kansas State.
  • The Mountaineers defense produced seven tackles for loss at KSU, had nine tackles for loss against OSU and Maryland and a season-high 10 at Oklahoma.
  • WVU is No. 1 in the Big 12 Conference in fumbles recovered (11) and No. 3 nationally.
  • Darwin Cook is tied for the Big 12 lead with four interceptions and is No. 11 nationally in the category.
  • Parkersburg South’s Michael Molinari continues to shine as the Mountaineers’ kickoff specialist with an average of 63.6 yards on 33 kickoffs and 10 touchbacks.