It is Family Weekend here on the Hilltop and the Ponies welcome the deformed, blood shooting lizards of TCU to Ford Stadium for the latest installment in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. SMU memorably won the Iron Skillet in 2005 by defeating TCU 21-10 at Ford Stadium just one week after TCU had garnered national headlines for upsetting Oklahoma.
The Ponies and Frogs did not meet in 2006, so SMU got to hold onto the Skillet for one extra year only to see it relinquished in a frustrating struggle in Fort Worth last season. Anyone who went to the game--which I did--remembers clearly the frustration coming from the hideously bad officiating and equally horrendous clock management by Coach Bennett and company. The game was winnable and remained close late due to several red zone stops and forced turnovers by the defense.
The defense this year has been as disappointingly painful to watch as last year's was. TCU, however, may be without the service of leading running back Aaron Brown who was suspended by Gary Pitstains, er, Patterson for the first four games of this season for violation of team rules. Coupled with the fact that Andy Dalton has not exactly been lighting the world on fire with his passing ability, the defense could catch a break finally this week and get its act together.
TCU's Offensive line is not made up of the same behemoths that Texas Tech's is (one of the starting guards on Tech was 6-7, 305 lbs....were he painted green I would've expected him to be selling canned vegetables), but they are also quicker laterally. The pass rush, which has been spearheaded mostly by Youri Yenga, will have to adjust accordingly. The linebackers will have to step up this week and provide support against the run, which TCU is sure to ram down the D's throat all game.
Bo Levi Mitchell, as Ramon Flanigan suggested this week in his column for ponyfans.com, will have to forget about his horrendous perfomance against Tech, trust his talent, and focus on TCU. Mitchell's ability to do just that takes on added importance because TCU's defense will be the best Mitchell and the young offense have faced thus far this year. In their first 3 games this season, TCU has allowed 3, 7, and 14 points. Now these are hardly BCS teams that TCU has faced so far (New Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, and Stanford), but these games show that the TCU defense has skill. Bo Levi will have to maintain his patience and not make the same terrible decisions that killed him at Rice and Texas Tech.
The battle to watch will be up front. Center Mitch Enright, who missed last week's game against Tech due to a hand injury may be out again this week. If so, freshman Blake McJunkin will be snapping the ball to Bo Levi. McJunkin acquitted himself quite well in his first NCAA game, but the front 4 of TCU will be the fastest, most talented defensive line he has faced yet. DeMyron Martin will need to continue his excellent blocking work, but also needs to be more aggressive in his runs. DeMyron: you're 6-2 and 230 lbs., stop tiptoeing around tackles and run people over.
This game could truly go either way. If the defense is able to get key stops, force a few turnovers and otherwise get Bo Levi and the offense back on the field, then the Mustangs could pull off the victory. But if the defense falters again and Bo Levi isn't able to get into a rhythm, then it will be a long night of staring at ugly purple people.
Ty and I will be on the Boulevard once again, drinking the High Life and sitting in the shade at our shared tailgating spot by Cockrell. Come by and have a beer with us.
Go Mustangs, fry the froggies!
Tap the Boulevard is an SMU Football Blog, A Beer Blog, A Baseball Blog, A Music Blog, basically a blog about everything that makes life worth living. So sit back, relax, crack a cold one and enjoy our incoherent ramblings and gratuitous movie quotes.