The last time TCU football traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia, was Nov. 10, 2018. That day, the Frogs saw their worst loss in the Gary Patterson era, falling 47-10 to the Mountaineers.
On Saturday, Patterson’s team made their return to Milan Puskar Stadium, riding two-straight wins and looking to gain serious momentum in a season that once looked lost.
Nevertheless, like two years ago, TCU looked outmatched by West Virginia. The Frogs gained just 295 yards of offense and committed two turnovers en route to a 24-6 trouncing against the Mountaineers.
“Probably the best mood I could say is probably just hungry, just tired of just coming up short, just tired of losing,” safety Tre Moehrig said. “Just kind of trying to get back on that winning side again.”
West Virginia gained 392 yards of offense themselves, often moving the ball on the back of Leddie Brown. The running back ran all over TCU, stiff-arming defenders and breaking tackles on his way to 156 yards on an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
“We let him [Brown] cut out the back end about three times,” Patterson said. “All of his three big runs came out the back where our guys over pursue. We can’t do that.”
In the passing game, Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege made use of stellar protection by his offensive line, going 19-for-26 with 212 yards and three scores (two passing, one rushing).
“Great quarterback,” Moehrig said of Doege. “We just have to come up and make plays when we need to. That’s pretty much the bottom line. He was making some throws that were really pretty accurate.”
Right away, Doege and Brown had announced to the 11,111 in attendance they would be hard to stop. The two led the Mountaineers 99 yards down the field on the first drive, which was capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown by Doege.
The quarterback-running back duo had accounted for 84 of West Virginia’s yards on the scoring drive.
“I mean, what would you like if someone took your girl? It feels about the same way,” Patterson said about giving up the early drive. “Most of it was all our fault, to be honest with you.”
Doege’s passing touchdowns both came on deep balls to receiver T.J. Simmons, who entered the game with zero receiving touchdowns on the year.
The redshirt senior finished with four catches for a game-high 90 yards along with the two house calls.
Part of West Virginia’s passing success can be credited to a depleted TCU secondary, which lost even more depth in the second quarter when safety Ar’Darius Washington was helped off after taking a blow to the head.
Patterson said after the game Washington should be “fine.”
For the third-straight game, TCU quarterback Max Duggan struggled to throw the ball well. The sophomore finished 16-for-29 with just 161 yards and an interception.
In the first four games of the year, Duggan completed 70% of his passes and topped 200 yards three times. In his last three games, the young signal-caller has completed just 55% of his passes and thrown under 200 yards each time.
“They’re good on defense,” Patterson said. “The bottom line is we dropped a couple passes. You can’t put yourself behind the chains. You’ve got to be able to score points in the red zone.”
Near the beginning of the fourth quarter, TCU trailed by just 11 and looked to make the game competitive, forcing a West Virginia punt. Moehrig, returning in the place of the injured Derius Davis, then muffed the punt to give the ball right back to the Mountaineers.
“I practice catching punts pretty much daily, every other day,” Moehrig said. “I can’t say much about that. That one was just on me. Unfortunately, I just dropped the ball.”
West Virginia then scored two plays later on a 38-yard pass to Simmons to take a 24-6 lead they would not see diminished.
Later in the quarter, TCU made an effort to find the end zone for the first time, marching 71 yards in eight plays to the West Virginia six-yard line. Duggan then made his worst read of the day, throwing it right to safety Tykee Smith, who returned the interception 42 yards to put the nails in the coffin for the Frogs.
The Frogs have now been outscored 71-16 in their last two trips to Morgantown. They fall to 3-4 with the loss.
“I think that just starts with our leadership, just getting everybody to get their heads up and to come to practice with the mindset of, ‘We’ve got to get better,'” Moehrig said. “Even if it’s something small, we just have to get better at something every day.”
TCU will get the next two weeks to re-group, as they have a bye next Saturday. The Frogs will return to action Saturday, Nov. 28 in Lawrence for a matchup with Kansas.