1. TCU suffered a tough loss at Tech but had a bye week to recover. How are the coaches and players feeling heading into this game?
Well, last week Gary Patterson told the media that his team needed to stop feeling sorry for themselves. The best news for TCU fans and the players was the bye week because it has allowed players time to recoup in time for SMU. The loss to Tech really did have an effect on them and only Saturday will tell if they truly have moved past the loss to the Red Raiders. They still have nine games left in the season, and they've lost their two games by a combined 10 points to teams with a combined 8-0 record. As Patterson told the media on Wednesday, they just have to finish.
2. Can you talk a little bit about Trevone Boykin and what he brings to the table at quarterback?
At the moment, he's trying to do too much himself. When I say that, he's bringing the pressure on himself to win ball games. The key example is when they played Tech two weeks ago, and he ran the ball more times than what the plays were designed for. He's also not making his progressions and what was especially evident at Tech is after his first read he was running. The problem is, TCU receivers are getting open, he's just not seeing them. His arm has improved from a year ago, but it's no use to have a great arm if you're not utilizing it. He's always a threat to run the football and will get TCU out of bad situations with his legs. That's something that injured starter Casey Pachall isn't as good at.
3. Should SMU fans expect TCU to pound the ball all day? After all, Boykin can run and B.J. Catalon is having a nice season so far.
I believe TCU will run the ball more times than we've seen all year. To be blunt, Catalon and Waymon James have not received enough carries. Against Tech, the two combined for just 19 carries on the night, meanwhile Boykin had 20. Running the football has always been TCU's bread and butter and if you look back to as recently as two weeks ago, their best drives came with them running the football. If Boykin continues to get more carries than Catalon and James combined, it won't only be a long day for the Frogs against SMU, it will be that way the whole season. I expect that to change though against SMU, the coaches have seen the limited success with running the football when they stick with it. Plus, it leaves a high-powered Mustang offense on the sideline longer.
4. TCU always seems to have a strong defense. How would you assess the unit's overall performance this year and which players have been standing out?
I feel TCU's defense this season is even better than a year ago. All-American cornerback Jason Verrett is playing lights out; he limited LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. and Tech's Eric Ward to a combined one catch for eight yards. Verrett has basically taken away whichever side of the field he's lined up on. The secondary overall has looked improved and Patterson mentioned on Wednesday that sophomore safety Derrick Kindred could be special in his career. He showed it against Texas Tech, shutting down tight end Jace Amaro the entire second half. The biggest question mark heading into the season was at linebacker but overall they've played well the first three games. Jonathan Anderson has been the biggest boost; against LSU he seemed to be all over the field and he was the same against Texas Tech. At 6-3, 230 pounds with 4.4 speed, he's the perfect linebacker for a 4-2-5 defense. The defensive line has been steady against the run as always, but they would definitely like to see more production from their ends getting to the quarterback. Against Tech, the Frogs recorded four sacks but most of those came from defensive tackles. Lastly, Devonte Fields has been a non-factor in the five quarters he's played this season.
5. What are your keys for TCU to win and a prediction if you have one?
Win the turnover battle, run the clock to keep SMU off the field and execute on offense. Last season they intercepted Gilbert five times so they know they can create some things defensively. Run the clock, keep SMU's offense off the field; TCU has to run the ball and keep things simple for Boykin. Getting too cute will not work against a team that has beat you on your home turf within the last two years. Execute...play calling can only go so far, players still have to block, catch the ball and make tackles. Do that, they win. As for a prediction, I don't see TCU covering the spread (18.5), I'm still shocked it's that high. Even with good teams, SMU has always played TCU tough. The Rose Bowl year the Frogs struggled to a 41-24 win with what was arguably the best team in TCU history. The next year (2011) the Mustangs beat the Frogs 40-33 in OT, but at one point led 33-10 before the Frogs mounted a huge fourth quarter comeback. For those keeping track, that's the same TCU team that finished 11-2 on the year which included a road win at No. 5 Boise State. Lastly, look at last year - another one possession game despite the Frogs forcing five turnovers. I predict TCU to win a nail-biter; 24-20.
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