Is the rivalry back? SMU is a whole new team in 2015, rejuvenated by the swagger and energy of first year head coach Chad Morris. The Frogs are hoping to hold on to dear life, as each week seems to bring a plethora of new injuries on the defensive side of the ball. With the most mobile QB they'll see all season on deck, Gary Patterson's D will have a tall task ahead. Can the Frogs slow down the #PonyUpTempo attack? Or will the offense have to lead them to a shoot out victory?
CONTAIN: SMU runs hot and cold, as momentum based offense as you will see in the FBS. Coming off their first win of the year - one that matched their 2014 total, the Ponies are flying high and feeling good. Quarterback Matt Davis has been on fire in the early season; shredding the 'defense' of Baylor and UNT to the tune of a 70% completion percentage, 337 yards, and four TDs through the first two games. While he does have two picks and six sacks against him, the man GP himself has compared to Trevone Boykin has been every bit as good as advertised for the new look SMU offense thus far. For TCU, who is playing two undersized former safeties at linebacker and a cast of young guns on the back end, the ability to keep Davis in the pocket will be key. As good as senior Derrick Kindred and sophomore Ranthony Texada have been so far this season - and they have been very good - if you let Davis run around in the backfield and buy time with his feet, coverages breakdown and receivers find space. When you're completing passes at a 70% clip, you can be sure there's a lot of that happening.
GREENER PASTURES: The senior running back has yet to hit his stride this season, and with just one more tuneup remaining before Big 12 play, it's imperative to the TCU O that the pride of San Antonio, Texas gets his mojo back. After averaging more than seven yards a run a season ago, Aaron Green has yet to get anywhere close to those numbers in limited opportunities in 2015. With the offensive line seeming to find it's groove against SFA, and the defense suffering yet another injury, the matchup against SMU seems like the perfect opportunity to get the running game rolling, and that starts with #22. While we shouldn't want - or expect - the Frogs to try and slow things down or play ball control against an offense who's pace desires to rival it's own, a reliable running game could go a long way to keeping the Ponies on the sideline, and the Frogs in the end zone.
ONE MAN IS AN ISLAND: Has any unit in America been decimated more than the back half of the TCU D? Kevin White: graduated. Paul Dawson: graduated. Marcus Mallet: graduated. Chris Hackett: early draft entry. Kenny Iloka: season ending knee injury. Sammy Douglas: season ending injury. Mike Freeze: MIA. And that doesn't count the defensive line, who saw Chucky Hunter graduate, James McFarland go out for the year with a fluke injury, Mike Tuaua disappear for an undisclosed injury, and Davion Pierson miss the first two games with an injury. All that leads us to... Ranthony Texada. The true sophomore corner is now one of the most experienced players in the TCU secondary, and along with Derrick Kindred, one of only two returning starters in the back end from last year's takeaway happy troupe. For Texada, who has quietly gotten off to a really strong start, the ability to match up one on one with a receiver playing in a pass happy offense like SMU's is paramount. With the rest of the backfield likely to be comprised of some combination of Michael Downing, Nick Orr, Ridwan Isshaku, Corry O'Mealy, and who knows who else, Texada is going to have to all but shut down one side of the field. The young veteran certainly has the ability to do that, and more.
NEW FACE, SAME PLACE: Against SFA, we saw a handful of young players that seem poised to have breakout seasons - Denzel Johnson in the secondary, converted safeties Travin Howard and Montrel Wilson at linebacker, and all purpose dynamo KaVontae Turpin at... well, everything - and for the Frogs to have success Saturday and beyond, there will need to be some others that step up in a big way. Johnson seems to have wrapped up the job as Iloka's injury replacement on defense for the time being, but who will fill Kenny's crucial role on special teams? And with Michael Downing up and down at best, the third safety job seems to remain a wide open affair. Also up for grabs is the corner spot - while we wait for Deshawn Raymond to make his presence felt, Nick Orr seems to have his grasp on the job, but GP has spoken about being intrigued by his ability at both corner and safety, so he may yet move around. With an explosive offense coming to town Saturday, and an even more dangerous air attack awaiting TCU in Lubbock a week later, getting the depth chart on lock, and soon, is imperative.
DO YOUR JOB AND GET OFF THE FIELD: At this point, is there anything Frog fans want other than an injury-free win? Sure, it would be nice to put a hurting on our Metroplex rivals, but at this point, I will be more than happy with a one point win and a team that walks off the field with everyone still standing that walked on it. With conference play soon to be upon us, the hope is Boykin and co can do their job on offense well enough to be able to watch from the bench in the second half, while the defense can go back in their protective armor around the same time. But we all know that SMU has circled this date, and I don't expect them to go down without a fight. An aggressive game plan, a few quick drives, and a lucky bounce or two, and TCU can get ready for their afternoon tilt in Lubbock. Let's win and go home, Frog fam.