Casey Pachall has continued to put up good numbers over the past two weeks, but he has admitted to lapses in concentration. I think he has another good game in this contest as long as he keeps the ball away from safety Chris Banjo of SMU’s secondary. Quarterback J.J. McDermott has played well for SMU so far this year, and his matchup versus TCU’s secondary is key. He may not be as mobile as Kyle Padron, who was last year’s starter, but he has plenty of weapons.
Zach Line is a bruising, downhill-running back who hurt TCU on draw plays last season. His shoulder is banged up, so I am not sure he will be as effective as he can be. Ed Wesley is likely to be back for TCU, but Matthew Tucker and Waymon James are still likely to carry the load. I like TCU’s three-man attack more in this one.
If Cole Beasley does not play for SMU, the Horned Frogs have a big advantage. Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson will have opportunities to find holes in the SMU defense. The Battle for the Iron Skillet normally has an unsung hero. I think TCU wideout David Porter will catch a big ball in the second half to help TCU tremendously.
TCU’s offensive line is actually smaller than SMU’s size-wise. However, it is hard to pick a weakness with TCU’s offensive line. They have done a great job protecting Pachall and springing James and Tucker. Opponents have already sacked SMU’s quarterback 11 times.
SMU’s defensive line has 13 sacks already. TCU’s defensive line has been solid, but at times, they have not gotten enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks. TCU will have to be careful of SMU blocking kicks as they have one player who has blocked 9 kicks in his career. Ross Forrest has impressed me thus far filling in. However…
Tank Carder and Kenny Cain will have a tough task of bringing down SMU’s big running back Line. Taylor Reed and Ja’Gared Davis are two of SMU’s top three leading tacklers. On the surface, it is difficult to specify much difference between the two groups, but TCU has solid depth with Kris Gardner and Deryck Gildon, who are great backups. Gildon, a first-year player, is destined to be a star in his time here at TCU.
SMU gives up just 188 passing yards per game. TCU’s defense has really been tested against the pass once this season. It claims it has gotten better, and I believe them. But how much better? This game will be a benchmark for TCU’s young secondary. Until TCU proves it has improved, I cannot give it the edge. However, I do think Greg McCoy has a good game in this one.
TCU is one of the best teams at returning kicks in the nation. I think Skye Dawson may have his first big game this week returning punts. Ross Evans and Anson Kelton have not been good enough for TCU. SMU’s Margus Hunt and Szymon Czerniak are both good at blocking kicks. TCU will have to do a great job protecting its kicks. The Frogs cannot allow SMU to make big plays on special teams.
SMU has not beaten a ranked team since they beat then-#22 ranked TCU in 2005. I am going to take Gary Patterson and the players’ words on our secondary. Perhaps we have improved. If the secondary has improved, TCU is better than SMU in most other parts of the game. Nonetheless, the Battle for the Iron Skillet will probably be a barn burner. TCU students should stay the entire game for this one. TCU wins 31-28.