It has been almost a month since the last time the No. 21 West Virginia University Football Team tasted victory after their win against Texas. After two blowout losses, WVU (5-2, 2-2) hopes to get back in the win column against the TCU Horned Frogs (5-3, 2-3).
The Mountaineers have been outscored 104-28 in their last two games at the hands of Texas Tech and Kansas State. The West Virginia offense, which seemed unstoppable through the first six games of the season, has only scored three touchdowns in the last eight quarters of play. On the other side of the ball, the WVU defense has not even been able to slowdown the high-powered offenses of the Big 12. They have given up 51.3 points per game in conference play.
For TCU, they are also coming off of a two-game losing streak after losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. With former starting quarterback Casey Pachall no longer on the team, the Horned Frogs have moved forward with redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin. After suffering a knee injury last week against Oklahoma State, Boykin will start against WVU this weekend. He has thrown for 1,122 yard, 11 touchdowns and has six interceptions so far in 2012. He is also a threat to make something happen with his legs.
"[Boykin] is very athletic and he has a strong arm," Co-Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson said. "He's almost like a running back that plays quarterback but he does have a very strong arm. He throws the ball effectively, spreads it around to playmakers. That's the biggest thing is how quick he gets the ball out."
When Patterson said Boykin likes to spread it around to his playmakers, that may be an understatement. Josh Boyce, Brandon Carter, Skye Dawson and LaDarius Brown have each caught over 20 passes and have combined for 15 touchdowns. This could be bad news for the WVU defense that ranks dead last in FBS in passing yards allowed per game, giving 360.1 yards per game through the air.
Boykin will be the second freshman quarterback (Perry Hills, Maryland) the Mountaineers have faced at home this year. Pressure will be key to WVU's success defensively.
"That's one thing I see is that when people start putting pressure on him, you see a lot of deflected balls at the line of scrimmage," Patterson said. "If we can get to him early and try to impact him, he has been forced into some turnovers. Obviously against Iowa State he had a couple and that was the key last week against Oklahoma State so again, that's going to be a key to the game this week."
The TCU defense has made a living this season off of forcing turnovers. They are tied 2nd in the country in interceptions with 15 and have taken two back for touchdowns. Even with the picks, they have been susceptible against the pass. They are 64th in pass defense, while a struggling WVU offense still ranks 5th in passing.
"[The TCU defense] is very talented," Quarterback Geno Smith said. "They have really good corners, are really aggressive and they do a great job of covering guys up. I'm going to have to be really accurate this week as I am every week. The key thing for us is not to worry about the circumstances or who we play or what they do in a sense of throwing us off. We have to remain on track, just stay at a steady pace and not get weary. As long as we continue to play together as an offense, then I'm pretty sure we'll come out of the slump we've been in."
The Horned Frogs are allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground at 98.9, which is 12th in the nation. The status of WVU running back Shawne Alston is the same as it is every week, a mystery.
The first and only time West Virginia played TCU was in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl at the Astrodome in Houston, TX. The Mountaineers won that one, 31-14.
With Hurricane Sandy finally moving out of the area, Morgantown can expect a beautiful weekend. The forecast for Saturday is currently mostly sunny with a high of 47 and a 10% chance of rain.
The game is at 3:00 p.m. ET and will be aired on FOX.