The big story on the East Coast has been Sandy, and some of that weather worked it's way down to West Virginia as well. As SnK already posted, the weather may impact tomorrow's game, making for cold, wet, and sloppy conditions. Also noted, the last time we played in severe weather, we picked off five passes. Geno Smith, once and former Heisman Contender, is no Garrett Gilbert, but he's come back to earth after destroying the Baylor "defense" a few weeks back.
I'm in the camp that bad weather benefits TCU even more with Boykin behind center, as his ability to make plays in the running game make the Frog's ground attack that much more dangerous - this is assuming he's at least 75% health-wise by kick off. Also, with Matthew Tucker back and hopefully getting stronger by the day, and BJ Catalon finding his groove and his confidence, I think GP and co will look to pound a Mountaineer defense that gives up over 130 yards per game, and will cross the 200 yard threshold as a team, including at least one TB2 long TD scramble.
The passing game, which kind of disappeared in Stillwater, is going to need to make plays. The WVU defense isn't exactly good, so there are plays to be made. They give up over 360 yards per game in the air - some of which can be attributed to the fact that West Virginia scores in bunches and teams are airing it out to try and keep up - but Boykin is going to have to be more accurate than he was against Okie State and make better and quicker reads. Boyce, Brown, Dawson, and Carter (if he plays) need the ball in their hands with the opportunity to make runs after the catch. Our strongest and deepest position on the team is WR; if they aren't involved we aren't winning this ball game. I think Boykin will be better, weather permitting, but with the focus on the run, I'm guessing he's something like 15/22 for 170 yards and a score.
Special teams has been such a strength, that seeing Jaden Oberkrom miss a couple of makable kicks last week was pretty surreal. The freshman with the cannon leg will bounce back tomorrow, and even in poor conditions he's going to have at least one big FG late that is a momentum changer. Field position is going to be huge, and Ethan Perry needs to unleash his own powerful leg and pin the WVU offense deep when given the opportunity. On the flip side, Skye Dawson has looked pretty solid the last couple of games, despite mishandling a few balls (shocking) he's made good reads and cuts and had some nice returns. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Boyce, who has been frustrated with his lack of opportunities the last couple games, breaks out a kick return TD in the first half.
Defense, and the ability for our games to stay fresh for four quarters will be the difference tomorrow, no question. The guys on that side of the field were visibly gassed in the second half against an up-tempo Cowboys team, and they will see the same pace of play tomorrow afternoon. Decimated by on field injuries and off-field issues, the defense doesn't have the depth right now, and so many walk ons and true freshmen are being called upon, it's a lot to ask to hold teams under 30. If the offense can score, which they should be able to, I do believe the Frogs can play well enough to be in a position to win late. Forcing turnovers, keeping Smith in the pocket, and knocking him to the ground, will be the key. With Maponga back, though likely limited, Fields should get more opportunities to wreak havoc on the outside, and I think he can get to Geno and plant him once or twice. Maponga's leadership was also sorely missed, and will be a difference maker in that department.
I've been going back and forth on how to call this game - it's a tough road test, far from home, in nasty conditions, coming off two straight losses in two very physical games. This team is young, with inexperienced players all over the (lack of) depth chart, and possibly looking ahead to the match up with a top 3 team a week from now. This all spells a recipe for disaster. BUT, I'm going the other direction and sticking with GMFP. The national pressure is off, and both of these teams, somewhat over-hyped in the preseason, have become the forgotten members of their new conference. This will be a battle from start to finish, but I'm calling for the upset and a TCU win, 35-34, with an Oberkrom kick to win it.
Do you still believe? Let's hear it in the comments: final score, Boykin rush yards, and couches burned. Purple tinted glasses on, let's Go Frogs!