What to Watch on Offense for SMU
Big plays. Last year, the SMU offense just wasn't explosive, but this season quarterback Garrett Gilbert has to be able to hit more passes down the field to open up the short passing game and running game. The receivers also have to help out Gilbert more and with some more depth at receiver to allow the offense to maybe show some different looks, SMU has the chance to go off on a Texas Tech secondary that has to replace a lot of experience on the back end. Traylon Shead will be asked to carry the load for the SMU offense and will have to make the most of his carries, especially if SMU is going to pass the ball more like June Jones and Hal Mumme have been saying.
What to Watch on Offense for Texas Tech
Quarterbacks. It will be interesting to see how Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield react in this big game setting with ESPN on campus and a packed Ford Stadium to deal with. Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been open to playing both quarterbacks, but expect Baker Mayfield to end up taking the majority of the snaps. Webb and Mayfield will have some help no matter who is out on the field with running backs Kenny Williams and Deandre Washington, who combined for over 1,100 yards last season, will be back to help in the running game. Eric Ward, last year's number two receiver, will be back after a 1,000-yard season and will be expected to pick up a lot of the slack to help the quarterbacks. How the quarterbacks play will ultimately depend on the pass rush SMU can get on them.
What to Watch on Defense for SMU
Defensive Line. The Mustangs are starting three new defensive linemen and while they also have to replace some linebackers from last year, the defensive line is the key. If the defensive line struggles to hold their gaps and play sound fundamentals, the linebackers will not be able to make plays on the ball carriers and have clear lanes to blitz. With Darrian Wright anchoring the middle of the defense and Zach Wood and Beau Barnes at defensive end, SMU will have to rotate other defensive linemen to keep them fresh against this Big 12 offensive line.
What to Watch on Defense for Texas Tech
Secondary. Texas Tech is replacing a lot on defense in the secondary and while some of these players are upperclassmen, they are still inexperienced or JUCO transfers. Dartwan Bush and Kerry Hyder lead a defensive line that generated just 19 sacks last season, but with more experience and a shuffled SMU offensive line, watch out for the Texas Tech defensive line to be a sleeper part of this game and get some pressure.
Key to the Game
Scoring first. SMU is 15-0 over the last two season when scoring first and 0-13 when the opponent scores first. Nuff said.
SMU wins, 42-20.
Game Preview: SMU vs. Texas Tech
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