Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Unfamiliar Big 12 teams in unfamiliar spot
By David Ubben
Are we sure this is a Big 12 game? Like, 100 percent?
In an alternate universe, the storyline for Saturday in Morgantown would be TCU measuring up to Big East power West Virginia in its first year at the adults' table of the feast that is college football.
Alas, that's not where either team finds itself.
West Virginia hasn't won a game since Oct. 6, and has lost two consecutive games for the first time under second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.
Gary Patterson's TCU team has lost as many games the past two weeks as it had the past three regular seasons combined.
"There was a pretty good sense of urgency last week," Holgorsen said of the bye week. "The attention to detail tends to pick up when you get beat if the makeup of your team is what you want it to be."
TCU has lost two consecutive games for the first time since 2007 and three of its past four games in Big 12 play.
In the past two weeks alone, TCU has lost the same number of games it had in the past three regular seasons combined.
"Our group haven’t acted much different. They understood the competition going into the season and it hasn’t been any different," Frogs coach Gary Patterson said. "Usually when you’re closer in competition, it’s going to be 6-8 plays that are going to be the difference in the ball game. That’s held up to be pretty true so far."
The Frogs have dealt with more injuries than any team in the Big 12, but they've also dealt with a painful triple overtime loss two weeks ago to in-state rival Texas Tech.
A trip to Stillwater turned forgettable last week after an early 14-0 lead became a 36-14 loss, capped by an injury to quarterback Trevone Boykin. Patterson, knowing this week's challenge -- West Virginia -- which plays similar styles on both offense and defense, gave his team a day off from practice on Sunday.
"You only do what you can do. You play with who you can play with. I think we’re a little bit of a tired football team," Patterson said. "For us the biggest thing is to get back healthy, so that’s what we tried to accomplish."
West Virginia should be fresh. The Mountaineers spent the off week trying to fix a struggling defense and figure out an offense that saw an inexplicable dropoff in two blowout losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State after rolling to a 5-0 start behind the record-setting pace of quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.
"I don’t remember the last time we lost two games in a row, but it’s the reality of this situation. Every game is going to be tough. A lot of our guys turned the TV on and saw Kansas State win another big game," Holgorsen said. "Unfortunately, it was against Texas Tech, that was our other loss prior to Kansas State (laughs)."
The challenge for both TCU and West Virginia is making sure an uncharacteristic two-game losing streak doesn't become and even more uncharacteristic three-game losing streak in the middle of their new league schedule.
"We’ve got a strange combination of a bunch of older kids that want to finish the year strong that want to keep winning, want to show improvement and get to a good bowl game and win games," Holgorsen said. "Then there’s a bunch of young kids that don’t understand any of this, so it’s a combination of both and it’s our job as coaches to mix the two and keep the attitude good."