MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Marquis Lucas felt he played his worst game of the season at Oklahoma State, even while acknowledging that Saturday’s low point could have been much worse.
Beaten by Emmanuel Ogbah for a clothesline sack that flattened Clint Trickett and jarred the ball loose, Lucas pounced on the fumble. The quick response prevented a turnover inside West Virginia’s 10-yard line and provided consolation for the right tackle allowing a highlight hit.
“You let something bad happen and it kind of sucks,” Lucas said Tuesday. “(Ogbah) is a pretty good player and he made a pretty good play on me but I took a bad set. Especially in this league you can’t have poor technique. If you do, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Trickett’s four sacks tempered the offensive line’s enthusiasm after a 34-10 victory and created lingering concern entering a matchup against 10th-ranked TCU. While the Frogs don’t have anyone to equal Ogbah’s individual numbers, their 3.14 overall sacks per game are statistically superior to Oklahoma State.
TCU’s defensive line, thinned by the dismissal of Big 12 preseason defensive MVP Devonte Fields, still has 12 sacks through seven games, while the linebackers have added nine. (Context: Nine of TCU’s sacks came against SMU, which has yielded an FBS-worst 37 this season. Those sacks still count, of course, but the cluster is worth noting before these guys are crowned as the ’85 Bears reincarnated.)
“They do a great job of getting to the quarterback, and they don’t blitz much, because they don’t have to,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They’ve got good, solid guys who are tenacious rushers.”
“We’re going to have to play better up front in pass coverage from the protection aspect.”
Any hit on Trickett seems to spike the coach’s blood pressure, but when Ogbah’s clear-path sack nearly ripped off his quarterback’s helmet, Holgorsen ran out to the numbers to bark at his offensive line.
The gregarious Lucas laughed at the encounter in retrospect, saying he deserved the hard coaching after exposing Trickett to such a vicious hit.
“When Coach gets on to me, I don’t go into a shell,” he said. ”It motivates me to go out there and do what I’ve got to do. Not saying I like being screamed at, but it sets a fire under me.”
Lucas and sophomore left tackle Adam Pankey, viewed as uncertainties during preseason camp, have been adequate bookends for an interior line that draws most of the acclaim. Persevering rough spots, like those that surfaced in Stillwater, has been the product of cohesion and player-to-player accountability, with the starting five linemen playing almost exclusively.
“When you need words of encouragement, you’re going to get them. And when you need someone to get on your butt, that’s going to happen,” Lucas said. “Our guys don’t sugarcoat anything, and we don’t hide anything from each other.
“We honestly felt like we played our worst game as a unit. A lot of guys let it be known that they didn’t give their best out there. Like Coach said, we got the job done but you can’t go out and play average and expect to win. He said he’s not taking anything average from us this week.”