Grading The Mountaineers: TCU Report Card
West Virginia got off to a slow start. Its defense gave up a scoring drive on TCU’s first possession, and the WVU offense struggled for the first 21 minutes.
But after that, it all turned the Mountaineers’ way, as they ran up a 47-10 victory over the Horned Frogs.
Let’s grade West Virginia’s effort.
Offensive Grade – B+ West Virginia’s offense had just two first downs in the opening quarter, and was shutout in the initial 15 minutes of play for the first time this season. The Mountaineers continued to struggle to figure out the TCU defense through the first seven and a half minutes of the second quarter, but once WVU got things deciphered, the floodgates opened. West Virginia scored touchdowns on four straight drives over the course of the last portion of the second quarter and the early part of the third. After that the only drama was how high WVU’s final score would go. A few dropped passes were the Mountaineers’ only real offensive negative once things started rolling.
Defensive Grade – A WVU allowed the Horned Frogs 65 total yards on their opening drive. TCU managed just 49 more yards in its next six possessions over the remainder of the first half. Texas Christian quarterback Mike Collins got increasing more uncomfortable as the game progressed, and West Virginia’s pressure started to swarm him, sacking him four times. The Mountaineers completely throttled the TCU running attack, which netted minus seven yards. Statistically that’s the best WVU has defended the run since it limited Maryland to minus 10 yards in a 31-17 win over the Terps in Morgantown in 2010.
Special teams – B TCU mishandled a kickoff, which West Virginia’s Exree Loe was only too happy to scoop up. That turnover proved to be a huge momentum changer. The Mountaineer lead was a slim 10-3 at that point, but they outscored Texas Christian 37-7 after that. WVU did have a turnover when a short Horned Frog punt hit the back of Keith Washington’s foot. It was bad luck, but it was also a miscue that could be deadly in a closer game.
Coaching – A West Virginia probably was caught in a bit of an emotional hangover from the Texas win at the start of the TCU game. But once WVU hit its stride, it just steamrolled the visitors. After the Horned Frogs’ opening drive, Tony Gibson’s Mountaineer defense dominated. Also give WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital credit for being patient. West Virginia’s run game, particularly its bread-and-butter inside zone, had trouble gaining traction in the first 20 minutes, but Spavital stuck with it, and eventually it paid off. In addition Spavital’s decision to speed up the tempo in the second quarter worked out very well.
Atmosphere – B The afternoon in Morgantown was blustery with the temperature topping out at 36 degrees, but the sun shined brightly throughout the afternoon, helping to mitigate the chill. The cold didn’t cause many no-shows, outside of some empty space in the student section, in a contest that was sold out, but for the most part the crowd was boisterous. Not everyone got the message of the “True Blue” promotion, as flecks of gold dotted the sea of navy. In all, the 60,007 at Mountaineer Field were fairly loud and enjoyed their next-to-last opportunity to see Will Grier, Gary Jennings, David Sills and the other WVU seniors play at Mountaineer Field.