SMU plays its first game of the season at home against the Stephen F. Austin Saturday night at Ford Stadium. The Mustangs are looking to rebound from their season opening loss to Baylor in Waco last week while the Lumberjacks enter the game with a six-game winning streak dating back to last season.
What to watch for on offense from SMU:
More consistency. SMU was pretty inconsistent throwing the football last week in Garrett Gilbert's first start for SMU, but senior running back Zach Line was again a bright spot as he surpassed his average rushing yards from last season with 135 yards on 25 carries.
The offensive line was also a nice surprise as the unit kept Gilbert from getting sacked. The line opened holes for Line and for the most part allowed Gilbert to step up and have time to throw.
Gilbert was shaking off plenty of rust last week and the offense missed opportunities to change the complexion of the game. Look for SMU to start with a good dose of Line and then allow Gilbert to run a very vanilla offense in the passing game to keep some things possibly under wraps for A&M.
What to watch for on offense from SFA:
Big plays. SFA will look to pick up chunks of yardage against the Mustangs after having plenty of big plays against Southwestern Oklahoma in its opener. The level of competition might be a little different for the Lumberjacks, but SFA has plenty of talent to do so.
Junior quarterback Brady Attaway will undoubtedly be looking at 6-foot-3, 215-pound 2010 All-American wide receiver Cordell Roberson to get behind the Mustangs secondary and make big plays.
After graduating its running back, SFA turned to sophomore Gus Johnson, who scored two touchdowns and ran for 107 yards in the season opener. Johnson is explosive but will he be able to carry a larger load this week to help balance out the passing game for SFA? If the Lumberjacks find some balance on offense, they have the opportunity to cause some concern for SMU.
What to watch for on defense from SMU:
Improvement. There are many ways the SMU defense can improve this week after surrendering over 600 yards to Baylor last week. The Bears had their way in every fashion with the Mustangs defense especially as the game dragged on.
Defensive coordinator Tom Mason does have to worry about some big playmakers on the SFA offense and the secondary could very well be tested again if the front seven cannot get pressure on Attaway.
The SMU defense missed way too many tackles last week and looked slow against the high-octane Baylor offense. Some may attribute that to it being SMU's first game, but the defense was run around and run over and pretty much embarrassed so a new sense of energy will be key for a turnaround on defense.
What to watch for on defense from SFA:
The Lumberjacks not have many standouts on defense because their one standout is freak of nature. Senior defensive end Willie Jefferson racked up 15 sacks last season, two touchdowns and 29 tackles in an impressive year for the former Baylor wide receiver.
At 6-foot-6, 234-pounds, Jefferson is a physical specimen that rivals Margus Hunt's athletic ability. If the Mustangs don't contain Jefferson, it could be a long day again for Gilbert and the offense
Key to victory:
Defense stepping up. If the defense does not step up, this game could be rough for the Mustangs. SFA has the firepower to test the defense and could make this a close. Fortunately for SMU, being embarrassed last week will serve as a rally point and the Mustangs will get back on track.
Prediction: SMU wins 42-10
Game Preview: SMU vs. Stephen F. Austin
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