1. Secondary play- The Mustang's secondary will have to make some dramatic changes to their play against Montana State after their poor showing against Texas Tech. The secondary gave up 413 passing yards to walk-on true freshman Baker Mayfield, and things won't get much easier facing an experienced senior in Denarius McGhee this Saturday. Although Montana State is not a part of the FBS, the Bobcats are ranked third in the FCS and cannot be taken lightly, especially considering seven FCS teams upset BCS teams just last week. Every defensive back, even senior Kenneth Acker, made mistakes, so don't be surprised if Montana State tries to exploit those problems.
2. Prescott Line and Collin LaGasse- With Traylon Shead out this week due to a knee strain, Line and LaGasse will both have to play bigger roles in this weekend's game. Against Texas Tech, although the Mustangs had 102 total rushing yards, more than half of those yards came from Garrett Gilbert runs and scrambles. The Mustangs must do a better job of establishing a consistent running game like they did so often with Zach Line in the backfield. In addition to the inconsistent running, Line had a key holding penalty on a touchdown pass that eventually lead to a 14-point swing in Tech's favor and ultimately doomed the Mustangs.
3. Penalties- The Mustangs had a total of nine penalties for 94 yards and one key holding penalty by Line that at the end of the day hurt the Mustangs in a big way. If all goes according to plan, the Mustangs shouldn't have much trouble taking care of Montana State on Saturday, but if SMU gets sloppy and gives the Bobcats second chances, the end result may not be what SMU fans expect. Coaches always say that the last thing they want their team to do is beat themselves, and if SMU continues to make mental errors, Montana State will try and take advantage of that.
4. Turnover battle- Against Texas Tech, the Mustangs did a great job of not turning the ball over, which kept them in the game until the fourth quarter. If SMU gets sloppy this weekend however, it could lead to an upset and an unwanted 0-2 start. Against a team like Montana State, where the Mustangs will be favored to win, limiting mistakes will be key so that SMU does not become the most recent FBS school to lose to an FCS school.
5. Offensive line play- Although the offensive line did a decent job, they did allow five sacks caused by mental errors and missed blocks that may come back to bite the Mustangs in future games. After losing three senior starters to graduation, the offensive line had to fill spots and their inexperience was noticeable at times. The big men will also have to work on getting more movement out of their run blocking in order to get more production out of Line and LaGasse.
5 Keys To Victory
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