Mountaineers block two field goals, keep winning streak alive at TCU – The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There is something to be said for a team that can make the proper adjustments in the locker room at halftime. West Virginia (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) has done that for the most part this season.
Nowhere is that more apparent than on defense.
Jordan Lesley’s crew has allowed just 10 combined points in the second half over the last three weeks. All three games were against Power 5 opponents, two against Big 12 foes.
That’s the best streak of second-half performances by Lesley’s defense since 2020, when the Mountaineer D also surrendered just 10 points over a three-game stretch against Kansas State (win), Texas (loss), and TCU (win). WVU’s best three-game streak in 2022 saw just 13 second-half points go on the board in late September and early October, but one of those games was against FCS opponent Towson.
West Virginia gave up just three feet (one yard) of offense to TCU in the third quarter Saturday night. The Mountaineers, rallying behind the injuries to Aubrey Burks and Trey Lathan, shut out the Horned Frogs in the second half. As crazy as it may sound, that’s not out of the ordinary for WVU when it faces TCU.
Neal Brown is 4-1 against the Horned Frogs as the head coach of the Mountaineers.
West Virginia gave up 13 points in the final two quarters last year in a loss to a TCU team that went on to play for a national championship. However, Lesley’s defense has given up just 10 total points after halftime in the other four meetings. Seven of those points came in 2019, meaning the Mountaineers have held TCU to a lonely field goal in the second half over the last three WVU victories in the series.
The second-half defensive dominance hasn’t been reserved solely for the Horned Frogs. Brown, Lesley, and the defense have been equal opportunists during this four-game winning streak.
Opposing teams are averaging a paltry 4.25 points per game in the third and fourth quarters over the last four weeks. West Virginia has pitched two second-half shutouts, and allowed just two touchdowns and a field goal after halftime in that stretch.
The Mountaineer defense’s performance stands out even more because the WVU offense has not been as productive after halftime. Here’s the breakdown:
For the season, as a whole, West Virginia is outscoring its opponents by 22 points in the first half. Garrett Greene, Nicco Marchiol, and the Mountaineer offense have scored 76 total points before halftime. Meanwhile, if you look at only the four-game winning streak, WVU has outscored those teams by 29 points prior to the intermission, thanks to 69 first-half points.
Another way of looking at it is West Virginia is averaging 17.25 points in the first half over the last four games.
Now for the second half.
Through five games, the Mountaineers have scored 56 points and only outscored their opponents by 15 after halftime. The numbers do improve if you take out the season-opening-loss to Penn State. West Virginia is outscoring its opponents by 31 points during the winning streak, despite only scoring 48 second-half points on offense.
That’s an average of just 12 points in the third and fourth quarters since the start of Week 2.
In other words, WVU has scored 20 fewer points in the second half than in the first half this season. During the team’s four-game winning streak, West Virginia’s first- and second-half scoring discrepancy is actually slightly higher — 21 points.
However, the big difference is the Mountaineer defense has surrendered 23 fewer points after halftime than before the intermission across the last four games.
Both WVU trends align with what upcoming opponent Houston (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) has done this season.
The Cougars have scored 27 fewer points in the second half than in the first. However, Dana Holgorsen’s team tallied 34 points after halftime in a comeback win that went to double-overtime against Rice in Week 2. Take away that game, and Houston has scored just 21 points in the second half this season. That’s a good sign for Brown and crew.
West Virginia also has a chance to be the third Big 12 team to shut out Holgorsen’s offense in the second half when the two teams square off on Oct. 12.