TCU Horned Frogs at SMU Mustangs: Game Preview

The SMU Mustangs look to get off to a fast start on Friday night. Photo Courtesy: Joseph Dowling
The SMU Mustangs look to get off to a fast start on Friday night. Photo Courtesy: Joseph Dowling
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By Zach Walker

Game Info
TCU Horned Frogs vs SMU Mustangs
Friday – September 23 – 7:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas – Texas

Records Before the Game
SMU Mustangs: 2-1 (0-0 in AAC)
TCU Horned Frogs: 2-1 (1-0 in Big 12)

Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball: Pages keep getting turned, but the narrative stays the same for SMU, get points when in the redzone. Now, we’ve already seen this year, when SMU settles for the field goal and later on plays catchup, but getting points is what needs to happen. However, turning the ball over in the redzone, throwing interceptions in the endzone, now that really must come to an abrupt end. Ben Hicks needs to slow himself down, take his time and be more decisive with the football, and if he has to, throw the football away and pick up the fight on the next drive. The Mustangs are almost deadlocked even when it comes to yards gained on the ground and through the air. Braeden West will have to really work to compliment his performance from a week ago, but it won’t just be on him. Ke’Mon Freeman looks to be a sledgehammer back for gutty inside gains, and it would be an excellent boost to see Xavier Jones back playing, after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. This game against TCU in Fort Worth last season was the truly the unveiling of Courtland Sutton, when at times the Frogs’ defense elected to just foul Sutton rather than really trying to defend him. James Proche looks to be a really strong compliment to Sutton, and against Liberty, it looked like Xavier Castille and Jeremiah Gaines were being thrown at again. If the offensive line can generate push and protection, and open up the holes for West to tunnel through and give Hicks the time to find his receivers downfield, the Mustangs really do have a strong shot in this game. The TCU secondary isn’t the vaunted unit it was from year’s past, now I hear that they have converted a wide out, Deante’ Gray, as a starting corner, and that could be exploitable. That Mustangs’ protection is going to have to really earn their supper against TCU. For as well as SMU fought TCU last year, the Frogs didn’t have James McFarland on the field chasing down Matt Davis. McFarland is a beast, he ruined the Skillet game two years ago, with Aaron Green and company on offense. ADVANTAGE: TCU – It’s all about the protection of Hicks, given that he isn’t a scrambler, and until I see a clean pocket, I can’t assume it’ll be there.

When TCU has the ball: The Horned Frogs are coming around with their own Hicks. The running back Kyle Hicks introduced himself to the Big 12 last week, with a 117 yard ground performance against Iowa State. Beyond that, the Frogs haven’t really been kicking the doors off on the ground. The Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill been pretty sharp for TCU, completing a tick over sixty-five percent of his passes. It’s never cool when a player goes down with an injury, but it does appear that SMU will dodge having to attempt to deal with KaVontae Turpin, who had lit up Arkansas’ defense, appears to have some ligament damage in his knee, suffered during the Iowa State game. Which also affects the TCU punt return game too. But the Frogs are going to be bigger and faster than SMU, that’s just sort of how it goes for now. But the SMU defense has beaten teams smarter this year. The defense has been great, the corners and safeties have played really strong games this year. Jordan Wyatt, Horace Richardson, and Darrion Millines have played some great football. The defensive front has been good too. Zelt Minor, Deon Green, and Justin Lawler have gotten things done up front and really haven’t allowed too much to trickle through to the linebackers. It’s the middle of the field that the Horned Frogs will likely target, trying to force linebackers to catch receivers in the open field. ADVANTAGE: TCU – If the SMU defense can dictate what TCU can do, and the Mustangs’ defensive backs can play their game, it could be a different story.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Like I’ve mentioned: If the offensive line can play solid, and the DB’s can play their way, this game can be a real tight tilt.

Prediction: SMU 41 – TCU 38. I’ll bold up, it ain’t like I got money on this.