SMU –Garrett Gilbert had another lackluster performance last week in College Station, tossing his first interception. The passing game was again misleading – plethora of yards, pittance of points. Although Gilbert does not deserve all the blame, his accuracy issues continue to be one of his glaring weaknesses. The Mustangs missed a number of opportunities due to poorly placed pigskins from the Ponies' quarterback and though it would not have made too much of a difference as far as the outcome of the contest, it would have been encouraging to see Gilbert improve in that department because it has become habit for him to throw a few passes overhead or in the dirt. On the bright side, the fact that he doesn't have many touchdowns can be combatted with the fact that he doesn't have many interceptions either. He will need to continue to protect the ball this week against a stingy TCU defense. Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs gave Gilbert fits in a rainy game on the Hilltop last year, where he threw one touchdown, five interceptions and completed under 40 percent of his passes.
TCU – With the arm injury to Casey Pachall, it is officially a one-man show in Fort Worth. Trevone Boykin will take all the reps on Saturday against the Mustangs. Boykin has not stood out on the stat sheet thus far because Patterson prefers to play great defense and pound the rock. But this week, Boykin might just be playing the right defense at home to post a nice game after losing to Texas Tech last week. The Mustangs secondary has opened up to any and everybody so far this year and the defense overall has struggled mightily against dual threat quarterbacks. Boykin, originally from Mesquite, is only a sophomore but got a good deal of experience last year. He'll look to take advantage of one of the nation's most generous defenses.
SMU – The SMU backfield has produced much simply because SMU doesn't like to run the football. Gilbert has put up the ball 62 times in two out of the first three games, and he has run the ball himself 30 times – more carries than any back on the squad. It seems that Prescott Line is the primary guy that June Jones has elected to go with after the Traylon Shead injury with K.C. Nlemchi getting a few opportunities as well. Both backs have been decent when given the ball – both averaging over 4.5 yards per rush but have combined for all of 30 carries. Jones wants the offense to pass to set up the run so whether Nlemchi or Line have success on Saturday partially depends on the success of Gilbert in moving the offense down the field through the air.
TCU – There should be no speculation when it comes to TCU's offensive game plan. They want to run the football. If Boykin throws 15 times. and they win that is perfectly ok with Patterson. TCU has a two-and-a-half headed rushing system led by sophomore B.J. Catalon. Catalon leads the Horned Frogs running backs in touches, yards per carry and touchdowns. Waymon James is the other running back who SMU has seen plenty of over the years and the half designation goes to Boykin, who has carried the ball a team leading 35 times. The Mustangs have not done as terrible against the run this year as the pass but get back a key piece in Randall Joyner this week.
SMU – The SMU receivers got an unexpected boost from the breakout play of outside receiver Keenan Holman. Holman has mostly under achieved for the majority of his time on the Hilltop but caught 10 passes for 133 yards and Gilbert's second touchdown of the season. Holman showed his ability to get up field after the catch and was a handful for the A&M defense to control. Now it is about consistency for the senior. The upside is always huge for the SMU receivers because Gilbert is sure to put the ball in the air at least 35-40 times a game. But this week they face a TCU secondary led by senior Jason Verrett arguably the best cornerback in the Big 12. Verrett already has a sack and five passes defensed - three of them coming against LSU – and intercepted Gilbert twice last year. With TCU being by far the best defense, SMU has faced, the wide receivers will have an incredibly tough matchup. But Verrett can't cover the entire field and in the Run N' Raid, the Mustang wide receivers will have more than enough opportunities to get their hands on balls.
TCU – The TCU wide receiver corps is led by lethal weapon Brandon Carter. Carter – who grew up locally attending Euless Trinity – has a knack for big plays and can do something special at any point in time whether it's from the line of scrimmage or in the return game. But other than Carter, the Horned Frogs don't have much experience. With the graduation of Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson, TCU is still looking for their wide receivers to step up and make an impact. Wyoming transfer Josh Doctson proved to be a productive player for the Cowboys catching five touchdowns in 2011. After sitting out for a year per NCAA transfer rules, Doctson could be an under-the-radar weapon for Boykin.
SMU – The SMU offensive line only gave up one sack against Texas A&M but will face a dominant defensive end in Devonte Fields this weekend (if he plays). As inconsistent as they have been, last week blocking wasn't even their biggest problem. The offensive line accounted for the majority of the team's penalties. They were called for holding and habitually called for false starts. Going up against Fields, might just cause the line to continue these drive-stalling setbacks. If Wes Suan and the coaching staff don't draw up a plan to contain Fields, it could be a long day for the offensive line and longer day for Gilbert.
TCU – The TCU offensive line gave up no sacks against a Texas Tech defensive line that sacked Gilbert four times. With TCU having an offense that likes to run the football, their offensive line will be aggressive in trying to out-physical the Mustangs to open up running lanes for their backs who don't need much to get to the next level of the defense. Senior Eric Tausch has the most starts of anyone along the line and will lead the Horned Frogs against an SMU defensive line that has been mediocre. Also keep a look out for junior Michael Thompson starting at guard standing 6-foot-5, 352-pounds.
SMU – The Mustang defensive line has gone through plenty of growing pains over the first three games of this season and it is likely that trend continues against a decent TCU offensive line. When forced to rush three men SMU has gotten little to no pressure on the quarterback. The defensive line struggled immensely against the Texas A&M passing and rushing attack and gave up significant yardage on the ground to Montana State. The focus for the SMU defensive line this weekend should be putting maximum emphasis on plugging running lanes and making a way for the linebackers to stuff ball carriers. If TCU gets the running game going early, the Mustangs will be in great danger.
TCU – Pressure. That is what TCU wants to put on Gilbert from the very first snap he takes in Amon G. Carter Stadium. Sophomore Devonte Fields made a name for himself as a freshman in 2012 and is someone who made his presence felt last year in Ford Stadium. The Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year had 2.5 sacks against SMU and ended up with 10 on the season to go along with 18.5 tackles for loss. Although Fields is clearly the star on this unit, TCU has a number of other hungry players who can make an impact if too much attention is paid to him. With SMU's offensive line not showing any signs of dominance or consistency, the TCU defensive line could be the X-Factor in this matchup.
SMU – The linebackers will get an instant boost from the return of Randall Joyner on Saturday. The leader of the SMU defense hasn't seen the field since getting injured in the Ponies' first game of the season vs. Texas Tech. The linebackers have not played particularly well without Joyner in the lineup. All the talent is there but the tackling is far from consistent and the big play ability is absent. In years past the SMU linebackers were the playmakers, making interception and forcing fumbles but this year there hasn't been much of either. With Joyner back, maybe the ship will be righted.
TCU – TCU has two juniors at the linebacker position in their unique 4-2-5 style defense. Marcus Mallet and Jonathan Anderson don't possess the prototypical size of a linebacker but are both good athletes and can cover ground quickly. One of the requirements for being a linebacker in Patterson's defense is smarts so Gilbert will have to be careful when throwing his four to five yard crossing patterns across the middle of the field. The TCU linebackers know they have plenty of help in front and behind them so they will be able to make plays all over the field.
SMU – The defensive backs for SMU have not looked good. Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M wide receivers made 20 and 30-yard plays seemingly at will and when they scored, it looked all too easy. Now this can't all be blamed on the secondary because Manziel also had all the time in the world to throw the football because the defensive line was dominated at the line of scrimmage. But all in all, the secondary has been one of the weakest areas on the team and has yet to prove show their veteran knowledge and skill. With Boykin not being a supreme passer, the defensive backs may have some chances to make plays on Saturday. Will they capitalize?
TCU – Possibly the best position group on their team. With TCU constantly having five players in the secondary swarming around the ball, interceptions and turnovers are bound to occur. And when lockdown corner Jason Verrett is one of the players in the secondary, quarterbacks have to think twice about where they go with the football. Verrett acquainted himself with Gilbert twice last year in Ford Stadium and will look to repeat his performance. The TCU defensive backs will be licking their chops going into the game knowing that Gilbert will be putting the ball in the air throughout the entire game, and it will be interesting to see how they react.
Overall Advantage: TCU 5-2
SMU vs. TCU Position Breakdown
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