Holgorsen, Patterson preview battle in Fort Worth - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Holgorsen, Patterson preview battle in Fort Worth

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Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers meet TCU in Fort Worth this Saturday. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers meet TCU in Fort Worth this Saturday. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

It’s a connection that may eventually wear off, but apparently six years is not enough time. West Virginia and TCU joined the Big 12 Conference at the same time, and they continue to be compared for their respective ability to acclimate and compete with the rest of the league members.

On Monday, both Dana Holgorsen and Gary Patterson were asked to again take a stab at the annual evaluation of their programs and discuss how each got to a point where they are prepare to face one another in a top 25 match-up.

“We both came in with high expectations, used to winning, winning tradition and all that,” Holgorsen said of his program and TCU’s. “I just think it took a couple of years to get the depth to where we needed it to be. I look at TCU’s roster right now and they’re playing two- and three-deep. They just really have done a great job with their depth and built it up the right way and increased their facilities and increased their recruiting as well, which is the same stuff that we’ve done.”

In five games as members of the Big 12, the Horned Frogs hold a 3-2 advantage, with West Virginia taking last year’s contest by a 34-10 final. Holgorsen and Patterson each agree that depth through recruiting is one of the major contributing factors to their teams beginning to compete at a higher level than their identical records of 7-5 and 4-8 in their first two seasons with the conference.

The impact that the league has made from Patterson’s vantage point is much larger than what is happening on the football field.

“Coming into the Big 12 totally changed the whole outlook of everything that’s happened here in Fort Worth and at TCU,” Patterson said. “Not just in athletics, but I think academic and all the rest of it.”

Patterson referenced the publicity that will come to his campus by hosting ESPN’s College GameDay program this weekend, the second time the popular on-site pregame show has chosen a meeting between the Mountaineers and the Horned Frogs since they began competing as conference foes.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it looks like a game between two teams equipped with powerful offenses led by experienced, well traveled quarterbacks.

For TCU, the signal caller is no stranger to WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. Kenny Hill Jr. got his start in college football at Texas A&M when Spavital was just getting started as a coordinator for the Aggies. They spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons together before Hill transferred to Fort Worth following a suspension that led to him losing his starting position.

“He’s been taking care of the ball better,” Holgorsen said of Hill. “They’re running the ball a good bit. They’re not asking him to sit back there and throw the ball 90 percent of the time. He’s got a lot of good people around him, but he is managing it extremely well.”

Hill has the sixth-best completion percentage in the nation and only trails Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield in that category as far as the Big 12 is concerned. He is one of two starters in the conference who has yet to pass for more than 1,000 yards, but with the league’s top rushing offense (232 yards per game), he has been able to play a smarter brand of football that has led the team to its perfect start.

Will Grier is guiding the Big 12’s No. 2 offense as far as total yards per game and Patterson has seen a quarterback who brings a variety of weapons individually and with regards to the players surrounding him.

“You’ve got to find a way to slow them down. You don’t necessarily ever stop them,” Patterson said of WVU’s offense. “You can’t allow the big play and you’ve got to stop the run. Grier, obviously, the thing he can do, he runs around really well also. That also dictates coverages and everything else that you do. It’s just another Big 12 ballgame. You’d better get ready to pull up your pants and get ready to go.”

Holgorsen noted that injuries remain a day-to-day situation, but that he is “looking forward to probably being as healthy as we can be come this Saturday” as players like David Long and Toyous Avery push to get back on the field.

Kickoff between West Virginia and TCU is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

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