After a disappointing opening week loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, SMU is setting its sights on the Montana State Bobcats. The Bobcats had a more successful first game than the Mustangs, defeating Monmouth 42-24. Despite being an FCS team, Montana State is not an opponent that SMU can overlook. The Bobcats are a top-tier FCS team and is riding a wave of confidence after its blowout victory last week. Here are five Montana State players that could play a key role in upsetting the Mustangs this weekend.
1. QB Denarius McGhee. The Mustangs gave up a shocking 413 yards in the air to true freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield in their opening week loss to Texas Tech. Montana State starter McGhee is a senior with more experience and poise than Mayfield and could pose even more problems for the Mustangs this weekend. The Euless Trinity product was efficient against Monmouth, completing 19-of-27 passes for 240 yards before letting the run game run out the clock. He could be positioned for a big game against a Mustangs secondary that was not up for the challenge last weekend. McGhee also proved he was a threat on his feet against Monmouth, running for 54 yards on only five carries and a touchdown.
2. RB Shawn Johnson- What was truly concerning about SMU's performance against the pass last weekend was the fact that they did not have to contend with a serious run threat in a Texas Tech offense that totaled only 48 yards on the ground against them. Against Montana State, the Mustangs will face a solid running back in junior Shawn Johnson. Johnson totaled 109 yards on only five carries and a touchdown last weekend. His explosive ability will be a major threat to a Mustangs defense that will have its work cut out for them containing a dual-threat quarterback and a dangerous running back.
3. LB Alex Singleton- Singleton is a junior Will linebacker and a big playmaker for the Bobcats. Against Monmouth he had six tackles (two for loss) and an interception. While SMU played turnover-free ball against Texas Tech, quarterback Garrett Gilbert will have to be wary of where Singleton is on the field. While this is Singleton's first season as a starter for Montana State, he often found himself in the thick of things last season despite limited playing time, including a nine tackle performance against UC Davis with one sack and another tackle for loss. Singleton could take the big stage against SMU as his opportunity for a break out game.
4. WR Tanner Bleskin- Listed at 6-foot-3, 218-pounds, Bleskin is a big receiver with a lot of talent. Last week, the senior recorded seven receptions for 121 yards, including a big 47-yard catch. His playmaking ability and chemistry with McGhee make Bleskin a dangerous threat to an SMU defense that gave up 150 yards to big receiver Eric Ward of Texas Tech.
5. DE Brad Daly- This senior defensive end is a dangerous threat to quarterbacks. He is the active career-leader in sacks in the FCS with 19, including one against Monmouth last week. His place in the preseason Big Sky Conference first team reflects the respect that he has gained throughout his time at Montana State. He was voted team captain by his teammates and a quick start from Daly will fire up the rest of the team and could spell trouble for the Mustangs.
5 Montana State Players To Watch
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