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Friday Focus - Keys to Victory, Iron Skillet Edition

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What does TCU need to do to ensure the impossible doesn't happen against SMU in "The Battle for the Iron Skillet"?

More SMU fans came out for the deluge game than are expected tomorrow.
More SMU fans came out for the deluge game than are expected tomorrow.
Cooper Neill

It feels like this football season has gone on forever, yet we only have two games (and two wins) to show for it. I know we are all thankful now that we are past the bye weeks and in to a weekly groove, though the gauntlet coming up might change that tune. But Coach P wouldn't be happy if I was looking ahead, so let's focus on the task at hand, defeating our rivals from the D, the decomposing corpse that is SMU football.

  1. Be in the Moment - speaking of looking ahead, it will be important that the Frogs don't do that tomorrow morning. It's hard to fathom, even if TCU is thinking more about OU than SMU, losing this game. SMU is really, really, really terrible. But, frankly, we still don't know truly what kind of team we have, so showing up ready to play the Ponies is the only real option. Murderer's Row awaits beginning a week from now, but in the meantime, we need to handle our business in Big D.
  2. Protect the Rock - no sense giving the Ponies any hope at all by granting them good field position with a turnover. Ball security has been a bit of an issue in the first two games, so fielding punts cleanly, making good reads on passes for Trevone Boykin, and holding on to the football after contact for the running backs and wide receivers will be crucial. It's the oldest adage in football, but whoever turns the ball over less wins. SMU is bad, but if you give any team too many chances, you're asking for trouble.
  3. Where For Art Though, Running Game? - I know they had their reasons, but I still don't understand the pass to run ration we saw against Minnesota two weeks ago. When you are facing a team with poor depth, controlling the clock and the pace of the game is a surefire way to ensure a victory. If the Frogs can run the ball down the Pony's throats (they are giving up almost 260 yards per game on the ground, so if might not be the right word), they can wear down the D, keep the O-Line engaged in active, and save a little pounding on Boykin and the wide receivers. I know this is a quick score offense, but let's get our 40 something points, run down the clock, and go home healthy.
  4. Hit 'em Hard - SMU is starting their fourth string walk-on QB, who is a little dinged up. TCU is fielding what could very well be their best defensive squad in the Gary Patterson era. SMU senior RB Kevin Pope is averaging a paltry 3.4 yards per carry through the first three games, against defenses that are nothing close to what SMU will be facing 23 hours from now, so you can assume he won't be their most effective weapon. That puts the game in the hands of Garrett Krstich (can I buy a vowel, maybe?), the aforementioned fourth string walk-on. That means Chuck Hunter, Mike Tuaua, and company will need to spend a lot of time introducing themselves to the young QB, in the form of QB hurries, QB hits, and sacks. Get him uncomfortable, and their will be opportunities for tips and picks for the TCU secondary, which has been a group of ball-hawks so far.
  5. Show Up - Let's be honest, by virtue of getting off the bus, the Frogs have basically wrapped this one up. SMU has shown no ability to win football games so far this season, and not much desire to so anyway. This is, quite possibly, the worst team in the country, and TCU would be doing themselves and their fans a disservice by accomplishing anything less than a total dismantling. We won't even mention how utterly devastating anything but a convincing W would be... but no matter how much extra juice the Ponies bring for the Iron Skillet, I can't imagine it will be enough.

I know it's a Rivalry Game, and I know it's been pretty even throughout history, but if recent history, and the first few games of the season for the Ponies is any indication, this thing was over before it will even begin. TCU needs to take care of business, but this thing away in the first half, and get out of there intact. There are bigger fish to fry in the coming weeks, after all.