By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Quarterback Geno Smith believes West Virginia’s Big 12 game against TCU today at Mountaineer Field/Milan Puskar Stadium is a “must win.”
The 23rd-ranked Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) and the Horned Frogs (5-3, 2-3) clash at 3 p.m. WVU is a 6.5-point favorite.
“Right now we are in the situation where we just have to win,” Smith said as he and his teammates are coming off a bye week.
“(Losing two games) is not the end of the world. It’s something we don’t want to happen again.”
He continues to believe in his teammates on both sides of the ball and also in the coaching staff. He’s confident that WVU can get back on track.
TCU also is trying to turn things around. It has lost three of its last four games.
Dana Holgorson, WVU’s second-year head coach, has been familiar with TCU teams.
“It is a program that’s used to winning,” he said. “Their coaches are used to winning, and their players and fan base are used to winning.
“They’re coming off a couple of tough losses. They’re playing a lot of young kids, and we expect them to continue to get better and better over the course of their remaining games.”
Holgorson added that “the Horned Frogs play hard and that they’re a program that plays with tremendous effort and pride.”
WVU linebacker Doug Rigg said, “It actually was pretty exciting” coming off a bye week refreshed and ready to play again.
“Running what’s in front of you, it gets exciting again.” He noted that the freshmen continue to get better on defense.
Offensively, West Virginia leads in most categories by a small margin.
Points 288 to 266, first downs 180 to 176, net rushing yards 1,050 to 1,332, net passing yards 2,467 to 2,109 and total offense 3,505 yards to 3,436.
Defensively, TCU has been by far the strongest for eight games.
WVU has allowed 279 points to TCU’s 179, first downs 171 to only 131, net rushing yards 934 to 991, net passing yards 2,536 to 1,075 and total defense 3,470 yards to 2,265.
Geno Smith ranks second among Big 12 passers. He has completed 217 passes of 299 attempts for 2,417 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has thrown two interceptions.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is a freshman who has completed 101 of 164 passes for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He ranks ninth in the conference.
Andrew Buie of WVU stands No. 5 in the league rushing. He has carried the ball 115 times for 553 yards and five touchdowns.
West Virginia’s Tavon Austin remains No. 1 in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards. Teammate Steadman Bailey is fourth and Buie is sixth.
TCU has the conference’s No. 1 punter in Ethan Perry. A freshman, he has 29 punts for a 49.2 yard average.
Three WVU players have been lost for the remainder of the season with injuries. None has seen much, if any, action.
They are safety Travis Bell, linebacker Tewone Snow and cornerback Avery Williams.