September 30, 2023
West Virginia (3-1,1-0 Big 12) at TCU (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) 8:00 PM, ESPN2
Key Stat: TCU has won 10 consecutive Big 12 games under second-year coach Sonny Dykes
The West Virginia Mountaineers are breaking out the white uniforms with a new white helmet and a 3-game winning streak when they head to Fort Worth, TX to face the TCU Horner Frogs on Saturday night, Sept. 30.
TCU, also on a 3-game win streak, defeated the Mountaineers in Morgantown last year 41-31, and played Georgia in the National Title game in January.
The Mountaineers are true underdogs in this one, mainly because their quarterback situation is up in the air. The team’s starter, Garrett Greene (26-of-47, 402 yds, 4 TD), was hurt two weeks ago against Pitt, and the signal caller did not play in last week’s win over Texas Tech and is a game time decision versus the Horned Frogs. Head coach Neal Brown stated earlier this week that Greene will not play unless he is 100 percent. Apparently, according to some online posts, Greene practiced fully on Wednesday and that could potentially indicate he will be ready to go on Saturday night.
If he is not ready, Nicco Marchiol (25-44, 213 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) will make his second career start. Marchiol has been a good game manager for the most part the last two weeks, but the explosive plays that the Mountaineers need are not happening. However, there are more factors at play there than just the redshirt-freshman QB. The offensive line, though good at run blocking, has struggled some in pass protection. Add that with a plethora of dropped passes over the last two games from the receivers and you have an offense that is struggling to throw the football. The run game has been okay with C.J. Donaldson (64 rushes, 287 yds, 3 TD) and Jaylen Anderson (36 rush, 127 yds, 2 TD), but defenses are putting eight and nine men in the box to shut it down. If WVU wants to win in Fort Worth, they must hit some big plays in the downfield passing game.
The TCU offense is led by QB Chandler Morris who has thrown for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns through the first four games. Morris leads the Big 12 in total yardage per game (280 passing, 46 rushing). Emani Bailey leads the rushing attack for the Horned Frogs with 483 yards and two scores. He averages 6.0 yards per carry and has over 100 yards in three of his team’s first four games.
TCU does not have a dominant receiver like they did last season with Quentin Johnston, but J.P. Richardson has been the go-to guy so far this year. He has 14 receptions for 185 yards.
West Virginia has been led by their defense lately. The last two weeks, the Mountaineers have given up just 19 total points and are forcing turnovers at a good rate. They already have more team interceptions this year than they did all of 2022.
Lee Kpogba (29 tackles), Trey Lathan (25), Beanie Bishop, Jr. (21) and Anthony Wilson (21) lead the team in tackles. Bishop also leads the team with two interceptions and Tomiwa Durojaiye is first in sacks with 2.5.
The defense will need another stellar performance against TCU especially if Greene is a no-go. Also, fans have been questioning this week how much longer WVU can continue to win games with mainly just defense as the offense has scored just 52 points (17.3 ppg) in three games against Power-5 schools combined.
The Mountaineers are more than capable to go into Texas and come back to Morgantown 4-1 on the year. WVU is currently a 14.5-point underdog on betting sites, but with a healthy Greene that number likely goes down. Still, even with Marchiol running the show, if he and his receivers can get in sink just a little bit and connect on three or four plays down the field, that should open some running lanes for Donaldson, Anderson and little used Jaheim White, who should be ‘a lot used Jaheim White.’
The Mountaineer defense is due for a letdown, and TCU will probably score more than Pitt and Texas Tech did, but the defense on the Mountaineer sideline seems to be legit and should keep the Horned Frogs down enough to allow the offense a chance to keep up.
The question is, can they do it?
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