What to watch for on offense from SMU
More Zach Line. Last week was the same request and the Mustangs got it with Line's two-touchdown performance against Houston and will look for a similar one to set up Garrett Gilbert to have easy lanes to throw the ball in. Temperatures will be in the low 60s for Saturday's game so if Gilbert can't get warmed up then Line will have to carry the load for the Mustangs once again and shouldn't have any problems making plays on this Memphis defense. The Johnson and Johnson Show has been leading the way the last couple weeks for the Mustangs and don't expect anything to change there, but receiver Der'rikk Thompson had a great game against Memphis last year and could have a big game as well.
What to watch for on offense from Memphis
Too one-dimensional. Memphis' quarterback Jacob Karam has had to do much of the work for the offense on his own and especially since starting running back Jerrell Rhodes went down with an injury. While Jai Steib has filled in well for Rhodes at running back, he has yet to top 13 carries, which does not help Karam and the Memphis offense get the ball in the end zone. Karam is completing over 60 percent of his passes this season, but Memphis is ranked 116th in the country passing, which is embarrassing for any team. Steib will need to get the ball early and often in hopes that maybe the Memphis offense could get going by making the Mustangs respect the running ability of not only Karam, but Steib too.
Memphis' two wide receivers, senior Marcus Rucker and sophomore Keiwone Malone, are talented as well and give Karam two targets to get the ball to. Rucker, the bigger threat at 6-foot-4, has been inconsistent so far this season. Malone on the other hand is more compact at 155 pounds and finds the zones to sit down and get up the field quickly for the Tigers and is averaging 10.2 yards per catch.
What to watch for on defense from SMU
Turnovers. SMU has been a turnover machine for a lot of this year and some of that has to do with competition, but Houston is not a team that turns the ball over like it did and SMU has to get some credit for that. Playing against a pretty bad Memphis team offensively should help the defense keep up their momentum. The linebackers have played unbelievable football for the Mustangs and look for more of that from Ja'Gared Davis and Stephon Sanders, who will be charged with containing Karam and keeping Steib in check.
The SMU secondary is still the team's biggest question mark, but it has really been a bend but don't break mentality for the Mustangs and that has a lot to do with the linebackers making plays. The secondary has to step up even with the injuries piling up so look for an aggressive defense on the field against Memphis for the Mustangs to try and make a lot of big plays like it did against Houston.
What to watch for on defense from Memphis
Akeem Davis. Senior linebacker Akeem Davis has been the heart and soul for the Memphis defense, but the team overall has struggled defensively, giving up 32.1 points per game. If SMU can neutralize Davis, it could be a big day for the offense. Head coach June Jones called Memphis the best defense in the conference, but their rankings reflect mediocrity instead of greatness. Memphis does not have many playmakers so the thing to watch is Davis and if Memphis can force any turnovers.
Key to the game
The defense continuing its opportunistic ways by forcing turnovers and the SMU offense feeding Line the ball to control the clock.
Prediction: SMU rolls 42-10
Game Preview: SMU vs. Memphis
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