With only 32 miles separating Dallas from Fort Worth, TCU’s closest rival is coming to town on Saturday. Under the lights, at 7:00 pm in Amon G. Carter Stadium, TCU will square off against SMU for the Iron Skillet. In recent matchups the Iron Skillet has been lukewarm at best. With TCU defeating SMU last year in Dallas 56-0, this game has felt like anything but a rivalry. However, this season could bring back some of that fire this matchup has been lacking. Under the leadership of first year Head Coach Chad Morris and Quarterback Matt Davis, SMU is looking vastly improved. If you don’t believe me, just ask Baylor who went into halftime at SMU with only a one-touchdown lead. In order for TCU to avoid the upset, here are 3 keys TCU will need to execute on.
The obvious improvement that has been made from last season’s SMU team to this year is the offense. Led by dual-threat quarterback Matt Davis, SMU has scored 52 points in its first two combined games. In comparison, it took SMU 7 games last year to reach near that same amount of points. Matt Davis is a big reason why SMU has been able to find its footing. A transfer from Texas A&M, Davis has fit perfectly as the chief engineer in Chad Morris’ offense. Davis has thrown for 4 touchdowns and is completing 70 percent of his passes, while he has added 240 yards on the ground. The athletic ability of Davis will challenge newly minted starting linebackers Travin Howard and Montrel Wilson. In order to slow down Matt Davis and this SMU offense, the linebackers will have to play disciplined and sound. Containment is one of the keys to TCU being able to win this game, as they cannot allow Davis to be able to extend plays and pickup first downs with his feet.
The second key to TCU beating SMU is the Frogs establishing their run game. So far lead tail back Aaron Green has only gained 108 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns. The 108 yards by Green leads the whole running back group. What made TCU so strong last season is being able to mix in the running game with the passing game. It is this balance that TCU needs to find again and getting it going against SMU is a great start. Not only will having a controlled attack keep SMU’s best player off the field, it will get them prepared when they open conference play next week.
The final key for TCU to be able to avoid the upset is for the defensive line to continue to wreak havoc. With so many new faces and injuries this season, the defensive line has become the backbone for continued success. Behind the play of defensive end Terrell Lathan and defensive tackle Chris Bradley, the line will need to be able to pressure Matt Davis into mistakes. If the defensive line can stop the run, open gaps for the linebackers to shoot and come off the edge with a hellish furry, this SMU’s offense will be stalled before it gets going. Look for Lathan, Carraway and Bradley to have a dominant game against the Mustangs.
At the end of the day, while I do expect TCU to beat SMU, this year’s matchup will have more sizzle to it. Head Coach Chad Morris has this program pointed in the right direction. Look for the Mustangs to come out firing, making this game close in the beginning minutes. But, when the final seconds tick off, the firepower of TCU will eventually engulf the SMU defense in flames. TCU should win this game by a comfortable margin, and have Boykin on the bench in the 4th looking towards Lubbock.
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