Columns/Opinion, Football, Opinion, WVU Sports

COLUMN: TCU’s defense is bad, but on this night, West Virginia just doesn’t care

MORGANTOWN — We have to preface this story about West Virginia’s offensive performance Saturday night with this disclaimer:

TCU’s defense is not very good, and that’s being kind.

The Horned Frogs have been getting gashed in the run game all season. Their secondary was a patchwork unit, having a number of inexperienced names in there filling in for injured teammates.

Now, to the most important thought of the night: The Mountaineers do not care.

Not when they just ended a depressing three-game losing streak.

Not when WVU just ended a seven-game losing streak in true road games.

West Virginia’s 29-17 victory against TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium was it’s first road win since 2019, or, the last time the Mountaineers played at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

WVU players do not give a you-know-what that TCU was ninth against the run, allowing 210 yards per game on the ground.

They don’t care TCU was ninth in scoring defense, with only Kansas allowing more than TCU’s 32 points per game.

That mattered little when Leddie Brown ran for each of his three touchdowns or when backup quarterback Garrett Greene ran right through the middle of TCU’s line for a 67-yard run or when WVU receiver Winston Wright and Sean Ryan both came up with big catches down the field.

By the time the Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) had closed down the first half, they had racked up 304 total yards — 78 more than they had in the entire game against Oklahoma a month ago.

“We knew coming in the team that was going to run the ball better was going to win,” Brown said. “We played more physical up front and in the backfield.”

Every player mentioned above played a big role in the win. Quarterback Jarrett Doege was solid, too, finishing 21 of 28 for 257 yards and no picks and rarely did he make a bad decision.

The one guy who will not show up in the box score, but had just as big a role in this win than anyone was center Zach Frazier.

We mention this, because the last time the sophomore from Fairmont was highlighted in anything, it was for all the wrong reasons in that 16-13 loss against Oklahoma a month ago, when his bad snap cost WVU a scoring opportunity late in the game.

Against TCU, Frazier made the key block that sprang Greene for a sprint up the middle.

On Brown’s touchdown runs, it was Frazier holding up his guy or getting to the second level to take out a linebacker that opened the door.

Heck, on Brown’s final TD run, Frazier drove his man five yards into the end zone and then just threw him to the ground.

“It’s a testament to how hard our offensive line worked the past two weeks,” Doege said. “They’re a tough physical unit. I think they cleaned up some details over the last two weeks and they can be pretty good when they want to.”

Brown’s final carry looked to have him stopped for a 1-yard gain, until he broke out of the scrum and picked up 24.

You guessed it, Frazier was in the middle of that, too, shoving guys off his running back to get him over the 100-yard mark for the game.

If Frazier was made the scapegoat against the Sooners, he should be hailed a sort of hero today, because that young man went to work at a time when the Mountaineers had to have a victory.

“I thought we played with a ton of energy tonight,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “We strained. It was a quality team win. Our offensive line, we ran the ball for 229 yards and were able to run four-plus minutes off the clock at the end of the game. I know you all have asked a lot of questions about (the offensive line) in the last three weeks. I thought they responded. “

The question now: Was this a major step forward for WVU or were the Mountaineers simply taking advantage of a bad defense?

If it’s the former, it comes at a great time, because WVU’s remaining schedule is filled with some pretty good defenses in Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas.

If — and this could be a big IF — WVU’s running game finds a rhythm and Brown returns to his 2020 form, it’s not exactly crazy to think the Mountaineers have a shot to be in all of those games.

But, if this was simply a blip on the radar, courtesy of one of the Big 12’s worst defenses, then this celebration from this night will be short lived.

All of that will be determined down the road. On this night, Frazier and his offensive teammates cared little about what the numbers said.

“We’ve been fighting for a win,” Doege said. “To do it like that felt really good.”

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