SMU Preview: Hating the Mustangs

Last year TCU beat SMU in an ugly, soaked, affair. This year the weather will be beautiful, and the win easier. - Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
This week's preview can't be as in-depth as our usual fare, and it will also be my last post at Frogs o' War for the foreseeable future. So for a valedictory missive, let's look for ways to hate the SMU Mustangs. Hatred, you see, is the currency of the realm in DFW college football these days. Self hatred isn't just spreading in Fort Worth these days. It's running rampant in Dallas, too. Both SMU and TCU have uninspiring offenses; SMU lacks an inspiring defense, and the dread of program malaise is creeping into the conversation. TCU fans, at least, remain confident change is just a player or a coach away. SMU's fans, on the other hand, are a doleful lot. And perhaps they should be. But not because there aren't bright spots on June Jones's team. SMU has a pretty decent pass attack-- a good one, even. The Ponies through a lot of short passes-- averaging under 9 yards per completion (TCU: 10.4) for an average 348 passing yards per game (TCU: 190). That's 39 completed passes per game (and 20 incompletions per game). It's all air, all the time, on the Hilltop. TCU tosses the ball about 30 times a game, completing slightly more than half of those, but it lacks a consistent identity on offense, making the comparison pretty much moot). So SMU is pretty prolific through the air, but not high scoring. For all those passes, the Mustangs have only two passing touchdowns-- two-- to show for it. (TCU: also 2). Who's Gilbert passing to all these attempts? Primarily Darius Joseph, Jeremy Johnson, and Keenan Holman. When SMU is rushing (about 25 times per game) it's not bad. Prescott Line is SMU's main rusher at the moment (Traylon Shead hurt his knee against Texas Tech; his status going into the TCU game is unclear; he practiced today, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Mustangs hold him out for conference play). The younger Line not a dynamo like his brother; Prescott's per-carry average is decent-- 4.48-- but he was ineffective against A&M when SMU needed him. Prescott has only one score. The difference is mainly on defense, where SMU is just plain... bad. As uninspiring as SMU is offensively on third down (73rd nationally), it's worse on defense (113th). The same holds true for fumbles (SMU loses a lot of them, and has yet to recover one). SMU doesn't throw many interceptions, but it very rarely forces them (6th best at avoiding them, but dead last in forcing them). SMU has an average rushing defense, but awful scoring defense (113th). In short, SMU has just the tonic for TCU's uninspiring offense. Vegas thinks the Horned Frogs will outscore SMU by more than two touchdowns. I think TCU will top even that. Look for Boykin, James, and Catalon to do what Tech wouldn't allow: TCU's trio of runners will run all over the field. Maybe the coaches even will let Aaron Green in on the fun. I also expect TCU's secondary to force Garrett Gilbert to throw his first interceptions. Look for TCU to roll SMU pretty comfortably on Saturday.
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