1. Limit turnovers- The Mustangs jumped out on top of Memphis early and at the end of the first half, it looked as if SMU was going to cruise to its first AAC win. Then the second half came along, and SMU decided it didn't want to take care of the ball. In the second half, Traylon Shead and JaBryce Taylor fumbled, which turned into 14 Memphis points and a Garrett Gilbert interception also lead to Memphis points. Against a formidable team, the Mustangs probably would not have come away with the win. Because the turnover battle is such a huge part of football, the Mustangs need to do a better job of taking care of the football even if Temple isn't the toughest opponent.
2. Playing a full four quarters- In the first half, the Mustangs put together arguably their best offensive performance of the season. SMU held a 31-3 lead going into halftime after two rushing touchdowns by Shead and a passing touchdown from Gilbert, but the only points the Mustangs could muster up in the second half was a field goal by Chase Hover. The Mustangs almost gave away their 28-point lead because they simply just fell apart. With a lead, no matter what team SMU is playing, the Mustangs cannot get complacent. Although Temple is 1-6, the Owls have battled and been in most of their games, so SMU must play an energized four quarters on Saturday.
3. Balanced offense- The Mustangs played one of their best offensive games all season, despite their second-half collapse. Traylon Shead finally showed us a glimpse of why the coaches were so high on him in the spring and Garrett Gilbert, besides his interception, had another very solid afternoon (321 yards passing, two touchdowns, one interception). Although Shead's numbers weren't tremendous (22 carries for 83 yards), the Mustangs' offense finally committed to trying to run the ball, and it paid off with two short touchdowns from the former Longhorn. A balanced attack of passes and runs creates for a more efficient offense and, in the end, will help the Mustangs win their second game in the AAC especially since Temple's defense ranks 102nd in the nation against the run.
4. Defensive line play- The Mustangs will be facing a true freshman in Temple quarterback P.J. Walker this weekend. Although Walker has done a solid job since taking over the starting job from Connor Reilly, he will be making just the third start of his career, and the SMU defensive line is chomping at the bit. Beau Barnes had a monster game against Memphis and has been the most consistent rusher for the Mustangs, so look for him to be one of the key players this week. If the Mustangs can put pressure on the freshman, it could force him into making mistakes that SMU needs to capitalize on if they want to fulfill Vegas' prediction of a victory.
5. Smart football- SMU shouldn't have a problem winning this one. Temple, which is coming off of its first win of the season, doesn't have any big-time weapons like some of the teams SMU has already faced had. For the Mustangs, it's about sticking to their game plan. SMU has done a much better job at limiting its mental mistakes and cutting its penalties, which has been huge in recent weeks. Finally, against Memphis, SMU's run-game came to life and that helped lead to one of SMU's strongest offensive performances this season. If SMU is able to limit its mistakes while playing fundamental football, the Mustangs should come away with the victory.
5 Keys To Victory
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