It’s not every year we get a Q&A for SMU week. Most of the time it’s just Hawk pretending to be someone else, and answering his own questions (which is also hilarious).
This year, though, Nick Armstrong from Underdog Dynasty was kind enough to answer some questions about the Mustangs. You’ll find his answers to my questions below. I also answered some questions for him, and you can read those here.
1. SMU's offense has looked stellar through two games this season. What has made them so potent early on?
Nick Armstrong: The biggest reason SMU has looked so well on offense can be attributed to the play makers at running back and wide receiver. In the first game against Stephen F. Austin, it was the running backs that looked super impressive. Braeden West, Ke'Mon Freeman and Xavier Jones all showed some explosive runs, tallying 183 YDS and 1TD, combined. On the receiving end, it was nice to see other players (other than Sutton) make plays. If SMU wants to contend they cannot always lean on Sutton. Watch for other receivers like Trey Quinn, James Proche, and Brandon Benson. If SMU is distributing the ball to other play makers, you know they're locked in.
2. Courtland Sutton is one of college football's elite receivers. What makes him so dominant, and how could TCU slow him down on Saturday?
He is absolutely dynamic and one of the G5 gems that could make an impact at the next level. His route running abilities are crisp and he is very difficult to catch in the open field. At 6'4'', Sutton is a big bodied receiver that is sneaky fast and shifty. Also with that size, he will win a good share of any 50-50 ball. I think TCU is going to have to double team him and cut off the short routes. TCU needs to challenge Hicks to throw the ball deep to Sutton. Hicks’ accuracy can be an issue when throwing the deep ball. If they cut off Sutton on short slants and shut down any screens, Sutton will be limited.
3. Ben Hicks has only completed 50% of his passes so far this season. Is that a concern for this offense as they get into some more competitive matchups?
Any time a quarterbacks completion percentage is around 50%, there is a cause for concern. I'm not too concerned though. Completion percentage can be a misleading stat due to drops or poorly run routes by receivers. At the end of the day, Hicks has the most experience and has dynamic receivers to help him out if a ball is thrown poorly. If Hicks is getting the team wins, I don't think many SMU fans will care what his stats are whether they're good or bad.
4. Who are some key players defensively that TCU fans should look for?
This is SMU's weak link. Three guys i would look for are DB Jordan Wyatt, LB Kyran Mitchell and S Mikial Onu. They have been the defensive leaders of the team and will be the names that you see show up biggest in the stat line. The defensive line is the area where TCU can take advantage. They don't get tremendous pressure on the QB (if they do its a linebacker or DB). But, the three guys listed above are play makers on defense that I would watch out for.
5. What are SMU fans' expectations for this season? Do they think Chad Morris will stick around, or move on to a 'bigger' program?
Fan expectations are being the dark horse in the AAC. Many SMU fans, and AAC fans, think SMU could make a run in the west. Tulsa looks much weaker, Houston has a new QB and coach and Memphis hasn't really shown us anything yet. SMU fans think and expect that every game SMU plays in, it will be competitive. In regards to Morris leaving, that will depend on the type of season SMU had. If SMU wins 8-9 games, many believe he will take the Texas A&M job (if it were to become available). As a conference, we understand we are in Purgatory waiting for our chance to shine with the P5. Until then, we are a stepping stone for coaches with dreams of getting that P5 job.
6. This game is going to be closer than the line indicates. TCU’s defense was solid against SEC foe Arkansas, but they haven’t faced an offense like this yet. I think SMU has an above average offense that TCU might not prepare for as seriously. With that being said though, SMU hasn’t faced an offense this season like TCU’s. SMU's defense will ultimately get worn down resulting in a TCU win.
Final Score: 49-38 TCU