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West Virginia opponents, Game 9: TCU

AP photo
TCU running back B.J. Catalon

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 17th in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.

Date with WVU: Saturday, Nov. 1, time TBA

Site: Mountaineer Field (60,000, FieldTurf), Morgantown

Series: WVU leads 2-1

Last meeting: West Virginia defeated TCU, 30-27 in overtime, on Nov. 2, 2013 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas

Coach: Gary Patterson (14th year, 120-44)

Checking them out

How close was TCU to being really good last season? Well, the Horned Frogs lost a close game to LSU to start the season, lost four Big 12 games by a combined 11 points and lost by a field goal to league champion Baylor to end the season.

What might have happened had TCU possessed even a semblance of an offense?

Gary Patterson wondered the same thing, so he went out and hired two new offensive co-coordinators and managed to get Johnny Manziel’s backup quarterback at Texas A&M, Matt Joeckel, to transfer for his senior season. If it works even a little bit, TCU could completely turn things around.

That’s because one of the best defenses in the league returns almost everyone. The Frogs have eight starters back on that side of the ball and will get end Devonte Fields back in the mix. The 2012 Big 12 defensive player of the year as a freshman — and preseason player of the year now — missed most of last season with injuries.

Even without All-America cornerback Jason Verrett, the Frogs are loaded on defense. The safeties are the best pair in the Big 12 and the line is great even without Fields, thanks to Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson. Linebacker might be the weak spot on the 4-2-5 defense even with the starters returning, not because they aren’t any good but because the line and secondary are just better.

Special teams are loaded, too, with third-year returnees in kicker Jaden Oberkrom and punter Ethan Perry, along with all the returners, including speedy B.J. Catalon.

But the offense? Wow, it was awful. Joeckel could make a big difference because it would allow Trevone Boykin to return to wide receiver instead of bouncing back and forth. It’s not as if Patterson’s defensive-minded teams have never had any offense, they just haven’t had it the last two or three years. If Joeckel works out, there are some good skill players around him. The line hasn’t been great, but three starters return.

All-conference candidates

Offense: OL Joey Hunt

Defense: DE Devonte Fields, DL Chucky Hunter, S Sam Carter, S Chris Hackett

Special teams: KR B.J. Catalon, K Jaden Oberkrom

Notes

Talk about easing into the season. TCU opens against FCS foe Samford at home on Aug. 30, but then has two open dates sandwiched around a home game with Minnesota. It gets much tougher eventually (Oklahoma and Baylor are the first two Big 12 opponents), but the start is a far cry from a year ago, when the Frogs opened against LSU. TCU played five games last season that were decided by a field goal or less and lost four of them. Aside from a 30-7 defeat at Texas, the Frogs’ most lopsided loss was by just 14 points.

2014 schedule

Date Opponent 2013

Aug. 30 Samford DNP

Sept. 6 Open

Sept. 13 Minnesota DNP

Sept. 20 Open

Sept. 27 at SMU W 48-17

Oct. 4 Oklahoma* L 17-20

Oct. 11 at Baylor L 38-41

Oct. 18 Oklahoma State* L 10-24

Oct. 25 Texas Tech* L 10-20

Nov. 1 at West Virginia* L 27-30 (OT)

Nov. 8 Kansas State L 31-33

Nov. 15 at Kansas* W 27-17

Nov. 22 Open

Nov. 29 (Thu) at Texas* L 7-30

Dec. 6 Iowa State* W 21-17

* Big 12 Conference games

2013 record: 4-8 overall, 2-7 Big 12

Dropped: LSU (L 27-37), Southeastern Louisiana (W 38-17)


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