Welcome to the Iron Skillet game which pits the two Metroplex private school rivals against each other, all for cast iron cooking ware. This year's game should be a bit more competitive than in years past, SMU is closing the talent gap, though not completely. A few keys for each side.
Quarterback as an asset, not a liability
We have no idea what to make of Ben Hicks. We see a lot of big plays, and through two games the Mustangs offense resembles a track team, up and down the field. That happens when you play SFA and North Texas. Saturday marks the first time the Mustang play a team with greater or at least equal talent. Can Ben Hicks hit receivers in tighter windows and under duress, because both are coming. He's still a 50% passer which isn't great. It's bad. He's LaMelo Ball, he makes highlight plays, but he also chucks a bunch of threes that don't get near the mark. SMU needs a more efficient effort from Hicks or whoever plays under center.
Chase Kenny Hill Around
Maybe the biggest growth area for SMU has been up front defensively. SMU's forced seven sacks this season. Last week the Mustangs pressured Mason Fine, but not enough to slow Fine's 424-yard effort. If Kenny Hill throws for 400 yards or more, it's a long afternoon for the Mustangs. Kenny Hill is prone to making the occasional mistake, especially under pressure. The Mustangs have to force Hill to get out of the pocket and make throws on the run, from different arm angles, and in different slots.
Go Fast Take Some Chances
SMU hasn't been 3-0 in thirty years. The Mustangs best shot to get to 3-0 comes Saturday. SMU has great skill talent, an emerging defense with ball hawks in the secondary, and an innovative coach. It's time to turn it lose. SMU's best shot comes with their offense on the field; the Mustangs need to maximize their possession running more plays and taking more chances.
The one guy that keeps you up at night is Courtland Sutton. For some reason, North Texas cut him loose on Saturday evening. The results were record setting. TCU needs to be aware of Sutton's presence and try to limit the big guy's influence in the game. Sutton can be a security blanket for Hicks, who can throw the ball into Sutton's vicinity and trust him to make a play. TCU's talented secondary can close those windows and make it a long afternoon for the Mustangs.
Get After Ben Hick
TCU's defense will give multiple, exotic, but efficient defenses. They're good at all of them. TCU's goal will be to get Hicks off his spot and hit him. A lot. From a body language perspective, Hicks sinks when he takes hits and faces free rushers. He needs a clean pocket to operate with any accuracy.
Continue to run it
Last week the Frogs made a statement against the big, bad, SEC by running the ball down Arkansas' throat. Last year, under Doug Meacham, TCU played with a bit too much finesse. Under Sonny Cumbie in two weeks, TCU's made a concerted effort to establish the run. The Frogs have a deep, talented, running back group with Kyle Hicks, Darrius Anderson, and Sewo Olonilua, They also have a big, strong, physical offensive line. If Cumbie can get the running game humming again, the Ponies can't stand up to it.
Notes and Numbers
- Saturday marks the 97th meeting of the Dallas/Fort Worth rivals. TCU holds a 49-40-7 advantage.
- TCU is 15-2 in the last seventeen matchups.
- SMU is one of three teams to score 50 or more points in their first two games.
- Courtland Sutton's four touchdowns against North Texas moved him into a tie for 4th All-Time in SMU history.
- A win Saturday would equal TCU's longest winning streak in the series.
- Kenny Hill 72% completions is a career high.
- Hill is tied for second among active players in career 400 yard passing games.
- TCU defense allows just 17% conversions on 3rd downs this season.