Pony Stampede TV: Football Friday Preview

We preview SMU vs. Montana State and offer predictions inside!

SMU-Montana State Break Down

By Billy Embody

What to Watch on Offense for SMU

Running Game. SMU likes to pass to set up the run, but in this game, SMU has to do a better job of running the ball so look for the kinks to be worked out of the running game that has always been reliable under June Jones with Zach Line. Prescott, his younger brother, makes his first start for the Mustangs and should be a little more at ease playing against Montana State rather than Texas Tech. K.C. Nlemchi is also expected to get some time in the backfield and if he can impress, he may earn himself some more touches even when Traylon Shead returns.

What to Watch on Offense for Montana State

The Zone Read Option. This game couldn't be timed any better for SMU with Johnny Football on the schedule next and Trevone Boykin of TCU the week after Texas A&M. The Bobcats' spread offense has a potent running game, racking up 293 yards rushing in their opener against Monmouth. Quarterback Denarius McGhee is also a solid runner, averaging over 10 yards a carry last week. Their big playmaker from last week, junior Shawn Johnson, is the one to keep an eye on. Johnson rushed for 109 yards on just five carries and a touchdown.

What to Watch on Defense for SMU

The Secondary. Although McGhee is a dual threat, he is a solid passer as well and could easily pick apart the SMU secondary if he is given time and SMU's defensive backs play like they did against Texas Tech. SMU's secondary will need solid corner play especially if the safeties are brought up to the line more to help defend the run. The defensive line last week got solid pressure on Baker Mayfield, but the SMU secondary couldn't make too many plays. SMU's secondary must be more aggressive this week than they were last week.

What to Watch on Defense for Montana State

Third Down. Montana State's defense stifled Monmouth last week on third down, holding them to just 2-of-10. If SMU cannot convert third downs and start going three and out, Montana State's defense could start getting some momentum going and get the SMU offense out of sync. SMU must also work on their red zone execution and get some momentum in that area going into their bye week, but most importantly, the Mustangs need to convert so they can get the win.

Key to the Game

Turnovers. Against an FCS opponent at home, if you start turning the ball over, there could be trouble. Gilbert didn't turn the ball over once last week so that's a good sign, but it would be nice if the defense could help as well.

Prediction: SMU wins, 42-20.

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