TCU takeaways: 5 things from a cold night in Morgantown

TCU took its worst loss as a Big 12 member at West Virginia. The day began with 50-degree temperatures, spotty rain and wind. It ended with a 24-point loss. The Horned Frogs fell behind early again, got back in the game but gave up 20 straight points over the second, third and fourth quarters in the 34-10 decision.

TCU comes home Saturday to face a Texas Tech team that went down in a shootout to Oklahoma. Before we get there, we take a look at five things from the afternoon in Morgantown:

1. The offense is not traveling. Ten points on the road is not going to cut it, as coach Gary Patterson said. Give a lot of credit to West Virginia and its eight-deep defense, which gave up some yards on the ground but made TCU show patience in the passing game. Kenny Hill’s 148 yards passing was a season low. In three road games, he has averaged 268.7 yards, thrown four touchdowns and been intercepted five times. The offense has averaged 22.3 points.

2. It’s not all on the quarterback, however. Emanuel Porter was out-manuevered for a ball on the first series, resulting in another first-quarter interception against Hill. New starting receiver Daniel Walsh led the Frogs in catches with four, but had an opportunity on a deep pass that he couldn’t secure. Taj Williams had two catches on five targets, as he and Hill appeared to misjudge each other. Hill has not always been consistent. But neither have his targets.

3. The sacks keep coming, but to what effect? The Frogs collected another five-sack game. That’s three this season. They lead the Big 12 with 27 sacks. But that’s not stopping teams. TCU is fifth in the leage in points allowed. The league’s next-best sack teams are Texas and Kansas, sixth and ninth in points allowed. How much does it take to stop Big 12 quarterbacks?

4. Third down is a problem. West Virginia was 8-for-15. Kansas was 8-for-19. Oklahoma, 8-for-15. SMU 8-for-18. Sensing something here? The Horned Frogs can’t get off the field. They have given up a 44.5 percent conversion rate on third down. The previous two years, it was under 28 percent. The snaps pile up, the offense sits, and third quarters like Saturday – 13:46 time of possession for West Virginia – happen.

5. It’s hard to play catch-up all the time, and TCU has had to do it a lot. The Frogs have led out of the first quarter only against South Dakota State, Iowa State and Oklahoma, and they were tied against SMU. The Frogs have enough offense to get back into games, but it’s asking a lot to do it just about every week. And having to do it this week against Texas Tech is not advisable.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez