1. Turnover Battle- When taking a look at a football box score, nine times out of ten the team with the least amount of turnovers wins the game. Last season, the Mustangs tied the NCAA record with eight interceptions returned for touchdowns, and if the Mustangs want to have a chance to beat the Red Raiders, they will have to force turnovers and capitalize on their mistakes.
2. Defensive Line - With an entirely new defensive line taking over this year for guys like Torlan Pittman and Margus Hunt, the play of the defensive line will be key for the Mustangs to beat Texas Tech. If the defensive line is not able to put pressure on the quarterback and hold their own against the run, it could be a long day for SMU. Texas Tech running backs Kenny Williams and Deandre Washington could have a field day if the inexperience of the defensive line catches up to them.
3. Defensive Back Play- With the return of Kenneth Acker, Chris Parks and the rest of the secondary, defensive back will be the deepest position for the Mustangs. With all of their experience, SMU needs to take advantage of the inexperienced Red Raider quarterbacks. Because of a back injury, Michael Brewer will not play, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury has said freshmen David Webb and Baker Mayfield will split time. If the Mustangs can force the Red Raiders' inexperienced quarterbacks to make bad decisions, SMU will have a good shot at pulling the upset.
4. Traylon Shead- The Mustangs lost one of the most productive running backs in school history in Zach Line and now will count on Shead to fill the void. Although SMU is known as a pass-first school, Line consistently carried the ball around 20 times a game last season, counting for a large portion of the Mustangs' offense. In order for the Mustangs to be able to put up points against Tech, they will have to have a balanced attack on offense, meaning in his first game as a Mustang, Shead will be counted on to run and run well.
5. Garrett Gilbert- Gilbert came to SMU in 2012 and was thrown into the offense, having very little time to create any chemistry with the wide receivers. Heading into the first game of 2013, Gilbert has had all of spring and fall practices to work on his timing with the wide receivers and understanding of the complicated passing schemes. In the Run N' Shoot offense, big things will be expected of Gilbert, especially after the end of last season when Gilbert seemed to get into a little bit of a rhythm. If Gilbert can be accurate with his passes and limit his mistakes, the offense will flourish.
5 Keys To Victory
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