Patterson Expecting Usual tough game with SMU

TCU will travel to SMU on Saturday in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.

TCU continues preparation in what will be the 94th meeting with SMU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet this Saturday at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

The Frogs are coming off their second bye week of the season, having only played two games thus far and as head coach Gary Patterson pointed out on Wednesday, they’ve been practicing for eight weeks.

In other words, TCU is ready for an actual ball game.

Luckily for the Frogs, they get to face a Mustangs squad that has struggled mightily this season. The Mustangs sit at 0-3, losing their games by a combined score of 146-12. They were beat last week at home by Texas A&M; 58-6.

As much as SMU has struggled, Patterson still expects a tough fight from the Frogs’ longtime rival. The coach knows his team is fresh from the bye week, but while that could be beneficial in some areas, where it is not is with rhythm; particularly with a new offense that is still a work in progress.

Patterson says playing a game is the best way to keep rhythm intact. The Frogs will play eight consecutive weeks beginning this Saturday.

“The biggest thing for us is to play,” he said. “You got to start playing every seven days and stay healthy. That’s as big a thing as anything else you do. On offense especially because it’s all about timing and it’s hard not to play.”

Defensively, Patterson says he doesn’t expect to see too much difference from the Mustangs offense even without June Jones calling the plays.

“SMU is like a lot of teams that throw the ball; what they try to do is what our offense does which is try to out execute you. They don’t try to fool you, they try to be better than you,” he said. “Over the years they’ve won a lot of games doing so. You’ve got to be able to match that repetition.”

The Mustangs have had troubles throwing the ball this season with four quarterbacks seeing playing time behind a youthful offensive line. Patterson expects to see the Mustangs use more protection this week and for them to take some chances like they did in the second half last week against the Aggies.

“I think we’ll see more guys playing tight end and max protecting and take more shots; they started doing that in the A&M game,” he said. “I think they did it four times. We went back all the way to 2010 to see what they will do against us because they know us so well. We’ve worked on a lot of things that they haven’t shown this year.”

Patterson said on Wednesday that facing SMU’s receivers could be the first true test for his secondary this season. Last season, Mustang receiver Darius Joseph caught 8 passes against the Frogs and Patterson also knows Der’rikk Thompson is a vertical threat.

“Obviously they have guys that are quick that can run and can move,” Patterson said of SMU receivers. “The key is they’re young and that offense takes a little bit of time; I think that’s maybe one of their struggles. They’ve moved some people around to get some older guys into positions.

“They’re probably going to be the best throwing team we’ve seen up to this point. You’re going to see Texas speed now. The good thing is we’ve done a lot of good on good last week and even this week. We’ve still had emphasis on their offense where we’re covering a 10.17 Kolby Listenbee and covering those kinds of guys.”

A big emphasis for the Frogs’ defense this week will be their ability to tackle the two big running backs the Mustangs will trot out against the Frogs; Kevin Pope (5-11, 222) and Prescott Line (6-0, 228). Patterson had high praise for Pope, who was a former linebacker for the Mustangs.

“The running back No. 3 is hardcore; he was a defensive guy that was a linebacker that moved to fullback and you can tell he’s a leader,” Patterson said of Pope.

Although the backfield has size, the Mustangs have struggled moving the ball on the ground as Pope and Line have combined to rush for just 115 yards on the season at only 3.4 yards per carry. That doesn’t bode well for the Mustangs’ running game as they face a very stout TCU run defense that’s only allowing 93 rushing yards per game. The Frogs held Minnesota to just 99 yards two weeks ago; this past Saturday the Gophers rushed for nearly 400 yards against San Jose State.

Through two games, Patterson has been very pleased with his front six. Patterson credits their success against the run to good coaching and his players’ ability and willingness to defend every type of play that comes their way.

“We’ve been doing it since 2000; Coach Bumpas does a great job, Coach Cross does a great job,” he said of the Frogs’ strong run defense. “We work really hard. To me, defense is about defending every shot whether it’s a three-point shot or a lay-up; you’ve got to defend it. If you want to slow people down you have to defend every shot. We’ve worked really hard; especially in the preparation for Sam Ford and the two weeks for Minnesota we really improved.”

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