Offense failed to pick up defense in loss to TCU
Published: Monday, November 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 08:11
For as much heat as the West Virginia defense has taken over the past few weeks following bad performances against Texas Tech and Kansas State, Saturday’s loss was a major step forward for the unit.
With the exception of the 94-yard touchdown at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime, West Virginia came in and – for the most part – looked like a completely different team from the defense ranked among the worst in the country in just about every statistical category.
Sure, it allowed more than 400 yards of offense again, but WVU also forced seven three-and-outs against the Horned Frogs after forcing just 14 through the first seven games of the year, while TCU also committed three turnovers.
Time and time again, when they needed to step up and make a play, the Mountaineers seemed to find a way to get stops defensively to give the ball back to the offense.
But for the third game in a row, the offense couldn’t make the plays it needed to in order to give the Mountaineers a chance to win the game.
And until that happens, West Virginia will continue to struggle.
There were multiple times throughout Saturday’s game when the offense had a chance to take over the momentum and put the Horned Frogs away but just didn’t do it.
With a three-point lead in the third quarter, the Mountaineer defense was pinned deep in its own territory, and it appeared they were about to lose the lead until freshman linebacker Isaiah Bruce intercepted a Trevone Boykin pass in the end zone.
Three plays later, the West Virginia punt team was back out on the field to give the ball back to TCU.
The way this offense has gone downhill since the Texas game is truly remarkable. WVU has gone from averaging close to 600 yards per game and scoring whenever it wanted to an offense that has scored just seven touchdowns in the last three games.
On its eight possessions in the second half, West Virginia punted four times, missed two field goals, lost a fumble and scored three points on senior Tyler Bitancurt’s only made field goal out of five attempts.
The only points WVU scored in the final two quarters of regulation came thanks to a Tavon Austin punt return with a little more than three minutes to play.
In a Big 12 Conference in which offenses constantly put up points, performances like that won’t win games – even if you have the best defense in the conference. And with a defense as young and inexperienced as WVU’s, things need to turn around as quickly as possible.
Yes, the Mountaineers made a ton of progress on the defensive side of the football. It was a performance that will give them a much-needed confidence boost heading into the final stretch of this season.
But in order for West Virginia to really get back on track and start winning games again, it has to be able to get that kind of performance from its defense and get the offense back to where it has been in the past.
WVU will continue to struggle until it finds a way to put together a complete game on all three sides of the ball.
Because if the Mountaineers expect to win performing the way the offense has in the past few weeks, that’s not going to happen.