Game Preview: SMU vs. TCU

Scott previews the Battle for the Iron Skillet between SMU and TCU on Saturday night in Ft. Worth.

Overcoming a slow start, the SMU Mustangs got their first win of the season against UNT on Saturday—something that didn’t happen until the last day of the season for the Mustangs last year. Now, SMU heads to Fort Worth to battle a TCU Horned Frogs team, suffering from the injury bug, for the Iron Skillet.

WHEN: Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. CT
WHERE: Amon G. Carter 3Stadium- Fort Worth, Texas
TV: FSN
SERIES: 47-40-7 TCU leads
LAST MEETING: TCU won 56-0 on September 27, 2014 at Ford Stadium


PONY TRENDS

After a slow first three quarters against the Mean Green, SMU’s offense kicked it into gear in the fourth quarter, putting up 21 unanswered points. Plain and simple: the Mustangs found a way to win even with all of the mistakes they had. The defense showed some nice improvement, especially when holding North Texas to two field goals off of two special teams mistakes. Those two holds kept the momentum in SMU’s favor. That until also gave up just 240 yards on offensive, which is an incredible improvement from their showing against Baylor.

Offensively, Matt Davis once again was electric with his legs, but managed to stay under 20 rushes, so he’s moving in the right direction there. Davis also found his groove in the fourth quarter with his arm. The offensive line, according to Coach Morris, regressed some and did not come out with the same urgency and aggression that they had in week one. Nevertheless, that unit is still much improved from last season and Coach Fry will need to have them prepared to face a talented TCU front.


OPPONENT STRENGTHS

TCU, one of the best teams in the country, would’ve been a much tougher team to face week one rather than week three. Nonetheless, the Horned Frogs are tough to handle of both sides of the ball. Offensively, TCU is led by seniors Trevone Boykin, Josh Doctson (above) and Kolby Listenbee. They have a solid running attack as well with Aaron Green and Trevorris Johnson. Defensively, TCU lost a few starters already thanks to injury, so they are thin at a few positions. That will play some sort of a role, but the Horned Frogs still have Derrick Kindred at safety and Aaron Curry on the defensive line.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Matt Davis vs. TCU’s defense: Davis will have to deal with the Horned Frogs front seven and their secondary all night, but if he can keep them guessing and not allow them to key on his runs, the Mustangs’ quarterback could find a way to put up a good amount of points on TCU.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Keeping up with this very good TCU offense will be tough, so this week’s first key to the game starts on the defensive side of the ball. Trevone Boykin makes the Horned Frogs offense go, so limiting his opportunities for big plays will be important. TCU is going to get their points, but if TCU scores quickly, the Mustangs could be in for a long night.

Offensively, SMU needs to protect Matt Davis and give him time to he doesn’t feel rushed. The TCU coaching staff has seen how much Matt Davis means to the Mustangs offense, so my first guess is that they try to keep Davis from running and make him beat them with his arm. If Evan Brown (above) and the offensive line can give Davis the time he needs to go through his reads, the junior quarterback could take advantage of TCU’s inexperienced secondary and linebackers


WATCH TO WATCH FOR

When TCU is on Offense— For the Horned Frogs’ offense, it’s about trying to recreate the success they had against Stephen F. Austin. After struggling in his season debut, senior quarterback Trevone Boykin (above) played like TCU fans hoped he would in game number 2. But which Boykin are the Mustangs going to get? The Frogs have the capability to run, so will they take advantage of that like Baylor did in their first game?

When TCU is on Defense—TCU will be short handed for their matchup against the Mustangs, so now it’s time to see if SMU can take advantage of that. TCU will be without starters in the secondary, at linebacker, and on the defensive line, so expect to see SMU try and target those backups.

When SMU is on Offense— SMU’s offensive line took a step back from their week one performance, so I’d like to see them approach Saturday’s game with a new found urgency. Don’t be surprised if TCU keys on Matt Davis and his running ability, so I’d also like to see the Mustangs role Davis out of the pocket to try and get TCU players in coverage out of position.

When SMU is on Defense— SMU did a great job of getting off of the field on third downs, and that will absolutely be another key for the Mustangs this weekend. Allowing Boykin to extend drives will just make it easier for him and his offense to make plays. Don’t be surprised to see TCU take some shots down field, so SMU’s secondary will once again have the tall task of covering two good receivers in Listenbee and Josh Doctson.

PONY STAMPEDE STAFF PREDICTIONS:
Billy: 48-20 TCU
Scott: 48-24 TCU
Hatts: 41-24 TCU
Patrick: 48-24 TCU
Demo: 31-28 SMU
Matt: 52-20 TCU


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