Who Holds The Advantage? TCU vs. SMU

TCU and SMU square off for the 94th time on Saturday in the Battle for the Iron Skillet.

Quarterback: TCU

Trevone Boykin is more talented and more experienced than any quarterback SMU will run out Saturday. The Frogs hold a distinct advantage here as long as Boykin plays with poise and urgency. He needs to show that the two personal foul penalties from last game were just a blip on the radar. Garrett Krstich will make his first start Saturday when the Mustangs (0-3) play TCU (2-0) in the “Battle for the Iron Skillet” at Ford Stadium. Krstich started the season as the fourth string quarterback (a walk-on). If the Frogs pressure Krstich, he will make some crucial mistakes.

Running back: TCU

The Frogs have not featured their running game in either game so far this season. However, the Frogs have more talent in the backfield than SMU who utilizes Kevin Pope and Prescott Line. Expect B.J. Catalon and Aaron Green to find significant running room against an SMU defense with linebackers that lack athleticism. Another key to the game Saturday will be how the SMU running backs help protect Krstich. Expect Gary Patterson to test their pass protection skills with some timely blitzes.

Wide receiver: TCU

Der’rikk Thompson, a senior, is SMU’s best offensive playmaker. The problem: the Mustangs have no one that can get him the ball. Kevin White will draw many matchups against Thompson, and if the Frogs can shut him down, SMU will struggle all day to move the ball. TCU’s receivers need to show more consistency attacking the football. Big plays through the air will be available for TCU, and Boykin need not lock in on only Listenbee. Expect some big plays from David Porter and Josh Doctson Saturday.

Offensive line: TCU

SMU does not start a senior on the offensive line, and the right side of their offensive line is particularly inexperienced. Davion Pierson and Chuck Hunter should get push against a porous interior along the SMU offensive line. For TCU, simply put, Brady Foltz and Tayo Fabuluje must improve. Through two games, they have been a liability for the Frog offense. The bye week should help the unit garner more cohesiveness, but the oft-pilloried Fabuluje and Foltz must take those practice lessons and show improvement on Saturdays.

Defensive line: TCU

The Frogs’ defensive line has been a pleasant surprise for the Frogs so far. Mike Tuaua, Chuck Hunter and Davion Pierson have played dominant football. They hope to make life difficult for Krstich on Saturday. Through three games, SMU has allowed 21 sacks -- that’s a number that must have TCU’s defensive linemen licking their chops. By comparison, SMU has just two sacks so far. Cornerback Ajee Montes is one SMU defender that TCU’s offensive line needs to keep an eye on. He constantly has one eye in the backfield.

Linebackers: TCU

Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet are tackling machines. They lead TCU with 24 and 18 tackles respectively. Both players are playing like veterans -- diagnosing plays and surging into opponents’ backfield. SMU’s John Bordano and Jonathan Yenga are solid players, but they lack the athleticism to keep up with elite athletes.

Secondary: TCU

Ranthony Texada has not been tested so far this season, and he may need to wait one more week for Oklahoma to come to town. He is the only conceivable weakness (and weakness is a relative term) on the Frogs’ defensive unit, and SMU does not have the playmakers on the perimeter to text him. SMU’s best defensive back is Darrion Richardson who leads the team in tackles. The Mustangs have a good one in this playmaking sophomore. SMU cornerbacks Montes Ajee and Shakiel Randolph are in for a long day Saturday.

Special teams: TCU

SMU is averaging 42 yards per punt and is 2-3 on field goal attempts, but the strong legs of Ethan Perry/Jaden Oberkrom give the Frogs the advantage here. One area to watch: punt coverage and return games. Gary Patterson has consistently harped on those units in practice. TCU needs to take a step forward there on Saturday. Expect the Frogs to get at least one big play from the special teams units.

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