TCU, because of the youth and the injuries it’s had to deal with this season, has used a few different starting lineups. The Horned Frogs, famed for their 4-2-5, hadn’t done what they did Saturday against WVU.
“The one thing we did was go to a nickel package (with an extra defensive back) so we’d have more speed on the field,” Horned Frogs Coach Gary Patterson said. “It helped us because both those nickel guys and the safeties made tackles. They played more effectively than what I had hoped.”
Basically, this was a 4-1-6, even if it looked like and was shaped like 4-2-5. Joel Hasley, a linebacker and the team’s leading tackler who had started every game this season, was out of the starting lineup in favor of safety Derrick Kindred. The former was a bad matchup for Tavon Austin. The latter, who had made five tackles all season, made 10 against WVU and nine by himself and did an admirable job against Austin.
He finished with 101 yards receiving, but he needed 11 receptions and one zany, 43-yard touchdown play to make it happen.
You can see where I’m going here.
When the Mountaineers had their success in the second quarter, Hasley was on the field in place of Sam Carter, the team’s starting safety who made 10 tackles against WVU. He was basically playing linebacker against the Mountaineers. Carter missed most of the second quarter after he was poked in the eye. The Mountaineers scored 21 points in the second quarter. Carter returned to start the second half. WVU wasn’t as effective in the second half.
In the second quarter, WVU quarterback Geno Smith completed 12-of-18 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Shawne Alston scored on a 1-yard plunge after TCU muffed a punt and gave WVU the ball inside the 10.
With Carter on the field in the other three quarters, the WVU offense generated 146 yards on 55 plays – an average of 2.66 yards per snap. In the second quarter, the Mountaineers averaged 5.19 yards per play.
“(Sam Carter) was gone the whole second quarter and they attacked our linebacker,” Patterson said. “We just weren’t athletic enough. Sam came back in the third quarter and we played the way we wanted to.”
TCU’s adjustments were done in part to follow a script the previous two WVU opponents had written. With the success Texas Tech and Kansas State had, TCU came to understand there was way to play defense and succeed against WVU. Geno Smith calls it “the formula” and says it’s not easy to pass against seven and eight defenders when those players drop back and take away the vertical options.The problems are worse when the defense doesn’t respect the run.
He’s probably right. See for yourself.
The Mountaineers now head to Oklahoma State, which runs its version of WVU’s offense — or does WVU run a version of Oklahoma State’s offense? Trust the Cowboys will be attuned to recent developments.
“I don’t think there’s any question that teams borrow ideas and borrow and don’t give them back,” Cowboys Coach Mike Gundy said. “I think as coaches evaluate tape and put a game plan together on both sides of the ball, they’re always looking to see what was successful or what plays had success against the team they’re playing. If it fits your style of play, I don’t think there’s any question teams will take it and run with it.”