5 Questions: SMU

TCU will face SMU for the 94th time this Saturday in the annual "Battle for the Iron Skillet". What should TCU fans look for from the Mustangs? We visited with Ponystampede.com publisher Billy Embody to get those answers.

1. It looks like junior quarterback Garrett Krstich will get the start for the Mustangs, but will the offense likely utilize two quarterbacks like they've done most of the season?

I'd imagine so. Coach Mason talked about how it's important to go with who is playing well and even with as bad as the offense has been, that's Krstich. If he struggles early, he'll get pulled. Eventually the team really needs to settle this issue, but until that happens, expect to see them rotated. Krstich played with reckless abandon and the team could respond well to that. Somebody has to take the job eventually.

2. SMU has struggled mightily on offense, what has been the biggest reason for the ineffectiveness?

Where to start...First it was the offensive line against Baylor. Then it was everyone against North Texas even with the line getting a little better. Against Texas A&M, the offense actually moved the ball a little better. The reason has been play-calling. The team wanted to go vertical more this year and hasn't really done that aside from a couple big plays. The lack of a running game has hurt, but this past week, the team recommitted to the run with 25 carries for backs. That will be important for SMU to do against TCU. Poor play-calling has been a big reason why the team has struggled the most and a lack of enthusiasm.

3. We've obviously seen the scores, but aside from the scoreboard, how much has the loss of June Jones affected the mindset of the team and how have they responded to Tom Mason?

With a lot more energy. The team has always been criticized for taking on Jones' demeanor, but Mason is a fiery, more old school coach that has made his mark on the team quickly. Practices are more up-tempo with hitting, there's music played and the players seem to like it. The team is just looking to have fun and make a bowl and win the conference. They know how they started was terrible, but Mason's message has been to them to turn it around each week and hopefully that will get them back to a bowl game.

4. SMU's defense has always seemed to play tough against the Frogs, what's the biggest challenge you see them having against TCU this Saturday?

Defending the run. SMU has given up over 250 yards rushing in two of their first three games except North Texas who had 245 yards. SMU is an athletic front with not as much size along the defensive line. How that hurts is that SMU's linebackers haven't been filling the gaps well at all and missing tackles when they do. Against TCU, SMU will have to defend a variety of different players TCU uses to run the ball. With the athleticism, SMU can defend east-and-west well, but once it gets into the straight ahead, physical running, it could be a long day.

5. This is a rivalry game, what's the mindset of the Mustangs program headed into the game?

Why not us? It's a fun game in Ford Stadium for the team and TCU does have Oklahoma next week. SMU has nothing to lose here. No one would be surprised if the team got blown out by 50 from what SMU fans have seen. Krstich is confident enough in his ability and in this team to change the mindset of the offense going into it. He talked at length about it in his press conference after the A&M game that there's still a lot to play for. Krstich set the tone with his running against A&M by not sliding, but trying (see body-slam tackle) to play more physical. He'll set the tone for the offense with his confidence, but I don't think it'll be enough.


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