TCU Horned Frogs: Iron Skillet Preview

TCU expects a big game from Josh Doctson against SMU. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
TCU expects a big game from Josh Doctson against SMU. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Will Martin

Game Info
TCU Horned Frogs vs. SMU Mustangs
Saturday – September 27 – 11:00am
TV: CBS Sports Network
Gerald J. Ford Stadium – Dallas

With exception to 1920, 1925, 1987, 1988, and 2006 this weekend’s TCU-SMU matchup at the Hilltop will mark the 94th time that these two fine universities have met. TCU has the advantage 46-40-7 since 1915 overall and the clubs have agreed to meet through 2017 via the home and home variety.

Recently whenever TCU has come to Mustang country strange things have come to fall upon their lap. Remember 2005 when the Horned Frogs had just gone to Oklahoma to start the season and won? The very next week SMU pulled off the upset of the season and placed a crimp in Coach Gary Patterson’s plans.

The weather also seems to play havoc in this series. 2012 and 2013 come to mind.

From 1972-1986 the Mustangs enjoyed a 15 game win streak against a then downtrodden Horned Frog program. Of late TCU has won the last two meetings, including a 48-17 victory last year at Amon Carter.

48-17 looks to be about the same kind of score I envision this Saturday when the undefeated Horned Frogs come off a bye and are ready to play their brand of up-tempo football.

TCU a perfect 12 for inside the Red Zone. Trevone Boykin has the same kind of big-play potential like we saw last week with Kenny Hill. The receiver corp of Sam Carter, Josh Doctson, Ty Slanina, B.J. Catalon could make this a long afternoon for the winless SMU program now under the tutelage of Tom Mason.

I had a chance to speak with Tom Mason after last week’s 58-6 loss to the Aggies of Texas A&M. He truly believes that losing three games by a combined 148-14 could be a character builder for the rest of the season.

Rest assured Gary Patterson has other ideas for this 11am start time Saturday. The final week of September football before conference play shall lead the way.

Two games and two byes in, I am impressed with TCU being a perfect 12-12 inside the Red Zone. That and the quickness in which TCU can seemingly put points on the board in a given situation.

Gary Patterson addressed the start to the season earlier this week, the benefit of two byes, another pointed information.

“The first off week was really beneficial. The second week was a little more of a struggle. We had a couple tough practices, but we bounced back. We’re finally in a game week and now we’ll go eight in a row, so the fun begins. The first one is SMU.”

Any concerns about having two bye weeks so early in the season?

“It seems like it’s been a long time. It didn’t feel like it was that long after the first one, because there were so many things to work on. What we tried to do was get ready for SMU while also making our team better. We also made sure of our plan for what we have in front of us. With Oklahoma having an off week, they obviously have two weeks to prepare. So, how do you try to make up that time? We have some work to do, but right now it’s the Mustangs.

“Offensive teams have to have rhythm. We’ve had two games in basically eight weeks. We played a ball game and had two weeks, then played another game and had two weeks. It’s basically been eight weeks since we started in August, and we’ve only played two games.”

Coach Patterson also addressed the areas where he feels the Horned Frogs have improved.

“Defensively, we’ve improved quite a bit. We were able to teach packages, and we got to see some things that we’ll see from other offenses. We were able to work on some things with our ends and our linebackers. We were able to work against the option, which makes us more disciplined. It also makes you better run players, even against SMU. They have two big backs who can really run it.”

Your thoughts on playing SMU for the 94th time?

“The bottom line is that you have to go play. You always worry about when the other team has nothing to lose. It’s a cross-town game. The biggest thing I have to do is worry about TCU. I can’t worry about SMU. I have to make sure we are ready to play. It’s an early ball game. We have to make sure we’re ready to go. If you’re not ready to play, the biggest thing that can happen to you is injuries. We don’t need to be banged up going into the month of October. We have to get ready to play. I don’t see any reason why we won’t.

“It’s still the same offensive staff, except for June Jones. Their offensive line is going to keep getting better, and they’re young at wide receiver except for a couple of guys. Defensively, they’ve played hard and they’ve matched up well against one-back teams. They understand how to play this kind of an offense. I expect them to play well.”

One area that TCU has improved vastly is at defense, right Coach?

“We’re closer to where we need to be. We have five defensive tackles, and we keep rotating them, and four defensive ends. We’re a lot better at those two positions now than when we played Samford. You now have to get ready for people throwing the ball all over the place and spreading you out.”

Namely standouts like Chucky Hunter, Davion Pierson, Chris Hackett, and Kenny Iloka. 2013 there were four games TCU lost by a total of eight points. Oklahoma was a 20-17 loss, Baylor 41-38, Kansas State 33-31 all come to mind.

This is not your 2013 TCU Horned Frogs team. TCU should roll over SMU big. Now as for that old wives tale about how the Iron Skillet happened to begin I will defer. I happen to like Frogs Legs…except during the week they battle for the Iron Skillet.