1. The little things- Lets face it, the UConn football team is not very good. The Huskies, who remain winless (0-8, 0-4), have played a couple of close games but haven't been able to get things going under interim head coach T.J. Weist. SMU should win this game, but they can't be lazy and complacent. SMU still needs to protect Garrett Gilbert, limit penalties and play sound football. The Huskies are hungry for their first win and if SMU plays down to UConn's talent level, an upset could be in the making.
2. Not playing too confident- Even though UConn has yet to win a game, that doesn't mean they haven't been close to winning one. The Huskies almost took down Michigan and played close games against Maryland and South Florida, so it's safe to say SMU will still have to show up and play well to win. SMU just battled one of the better teams in the AAC to the end in Cincinnati, so they should be confident going into this match up. While the team should be confident, if they play with too much confidence, they run the risk of losing to a currently winless team. The Huskies have a solid running game led by Lyle McCombs and after the way the SMU secondary played against Cincinnati, don't be surprised if UConn tries to pick on the defensive back field some.
3. Special teams- Chase Hover's two missed field goals were the difference in Saturday's game against Cincinnati. Hover, who was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last week, chose the wrong game to have two rare misses. The punting game continued to struggle as well, as punter Mike Loftus averaged just 27 yards per punt. In comparison, Garrett Gilbert's quick punt went 51 yards. SMU's special teams do not have to be spectacular to win this weekend but if they are poor, UConn has the ability to take advantage of them.
4. Running game: Once again, the SMU running game was non-existent. Prescott Line, the leading rusher for the Mustangs, had just 25 yards on nine carries, which is just unacceptable for a starting running back. SMU should be able to beat UConn without a rushing attack, but this would be a good game for the Mustangs to get some confidence back in that category. The Huskies have an ok run defense, but if Gilbert is able to play with the success he has had all season, that should open up some running lanes for Line and K.C. Nlemchi. SMU will need to do a better job of running the ball if it wants to make a push for bowl eligibility.
5. Finding a rhythm- SMU is in the home stretch now, so if the Mustangs want to make it to their fifth consecutive bowl game, it's time to find a rhythm on both sides of the ball. SMU's run game needs to improve vastly, while SMU's defense needs to step up in a big way as well. Running backs Prescott Line and K.C. Nlemchi, along with the offensive line, all need to step up with Traylon Shead out for the remainder of the season. The defense did a better job of getting to the quarterback against Cincinnati, but the secondary got burned. If the defensive unit can gel together and play more consistently, SMU's defense could start to improve. The Mustangs' game against UConn this weekend is a perfect game to make that kind of statement.
5 Keys To Victory
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