Football Friday – TCU Preview
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Published song writer Gary Patterson is bringing his singing TCU Horned Frogs to Morgantown, West Virginia, for a little Saturday afternoon revival at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Patterson, full-time college football coach and part-time composer who recently released two music singles titled “Take a Step Back” and “Game On,” is looking to win a Saturday afternoon dance off against Neal Brown‘s West Virginia Mountaineers.
Patterson said he recorded the songs last spring when the country shut down during the initial peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Take a Step Back” is a reflective song about appreciating family and friends.
“Take a step back, take a look at your life. Hug your children, kiss your wife,” he sings.
“I wanted to remind people to enjoy the time with their families, get to know their neighbors and be kind to each other (through the pandemic),” Patterson said earlier this year.
West Virginia fans are hoping Patterson is singing the blues on Saturday, much like he did last year in Fort Worth when TCU couldn’t hold on to a 17-13 fourth quarter lead and lost 20-17 to the 5-7 Mountaineers.
WVU’s winning score came with just 2:10 left in the game when Isaiah Esdale hauled in a pretty, 35-yard touchdown pass from Jarret Doege before sliding out of bounds. The loss cost TCU an opportunity to go to a bowl game for the 18th time during Patterson’s tenure and left him without a singing voice for his postgame press conference.
“We gave it away,” Patterson rasped.
It’s unlikely Patterson’s Horned Frogs will be in a giving mood on Saturday.
What has kept TCU from enjoying the massive success it enjoyed earlier in Patterson’s tenure when he won 25 games over a two-year period in 2009-10 and went to the Fiesta and Rose Bowls is an inability to win close games.
Six of TCU’s seven losses in 2019 were by one-score margins, and two of its three defeats this season are of the same variety – by three points to Iowa State on Sept. 26 and by a touchdown versus Kansas State, both at home.
On the road, the Horned Frogs have won games at Texas and at Baylor this year and three of their last four road contests dating back to 2019.
Since 2009, TCU has the third most road wins of any football program with 43. Two of those have come at Milan Puskar Stadium (2012 and 2014) and both were by one-point margins. That 2014 team was Patterson’s best since TCU made the move to the Big 12. The Horned Frogs finished that season 12-1 and routed Ole Miss 42-3 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
TCU also had exceptional years in 2015 and 2017, winning 11 games both times, but since that 2017 campaign, the Horned Frogs have plateaued by winning just 15 of their last 31 contests, including this year’s 3-3 record.
“They look like a typical Gary Patterson football team to me,” Brown said. “They are physical, disciplined and are really playing well right now in all three phases.”
The key to beating TCU is containment – containing quarterback Max Duggan in the run game, limiting TCU’s punt return game on special teams and handling the Horned Frogs’ pass rush.
In TCU’s wins this year over Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech, Duggan has rushed for 258 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In its three losses to Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma, Duggan has generated only 71 yards and a touchdown while averaging just two yards per carry.
Duggan was lethal in last Saturday’s Texas Tech win, rushing for 154 yards and three scores, while the punt return game accounted for 110 yards and two long Derius Davis returns set up Horned Frog touchdowns.
TCU also blocked a pair of punts.
In the 10-point win at Baylor, Davis also ripped off a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown and is averaging an attention-getting 21.8 yards per return for the season.
Third-down defense has been TCU’s other calling card this year.
The Horned Frogs rank 10th in the country by holding opponents to just a 38.9% success rate on third down. Opponents have successfully converted only 24-of-83 third downs against Patterson’s TCU defense and two weeks ago Baylor was just 2-of-13 on third down.
It will be important for West Virginia to avoid a lot of third-and-long situations on Saturday.
Neal Brown said the TCU defensive players to circle in your game program are safety Trevon Moehrig, linebacker Garrett Wallow and the Horned Frogs’ two young defensive ends Ochaun Mathis and Khari Coleman.
“They give you nothing easy,” Brown said. “When you play TCU you know what the deal is going to be. There is going to be no easy plays, no easy runs and no easy completions.”
Brown also hopes there will be no singing in the Horned Frog locker room after the game, as well.
Saturday’s game will kick off at noon and will be televised nationally on FOX (Joe Davis and Mark Helfrich). Mountaineer Sports Network from Learfield IMG College radio coverage will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the Go-Mart Mountaineer Tailgate Show leading into regular network coverage with Tony Caridi, Dwight Wallace and Jed Drenning at 11 a.m.
The broadcast can be heard on affiliates throughout West Virginia and online via WVUsports.com and the popular mobile app WVU Gameday.
Today’s Football Friday is presented by the West Virginia Lottery.