What to Watch for on Offense for SMU
Quarterback Play. The Neal Burcham era may start early for SMU if Garrett Gilbert is unable to go against UCF, but for now, Burcham will be on the field for SMU against the Cougars tomorrow. Burcham showed flashes of why he was an Elite-11 quarterback against USF, but otherwise had a ho-hum performance against the Bulls. There's not a doubt that the SMU receivers are good enough to help him be successful so it will be on Burcham to get into a rhythm early with short passes and then open it up later in the game for the SMU offense to be successful.
What to Watch for on Offense for Houston
Quarterback Quandary. While SMU knows who will be starting this week, Houston has a bit of a decision to make after inserting true freshman Greg Ward during the game last week, but John O'Korn that could start. O'Korn has played mistake-free football for the Cougars for the most part, with a 24-6 TD-INT ratio on the year. Ward may start, but Cougars' coach Tony Levine would not say for sure. Expect Ward to have plenty of snaps in the game against SMU.
What to Watch for on Defense for SMU
The Linebackers. With Houston's running attack having sophomores Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow averaging 4.5 and 5.3 yards per carry respectively, SMU's linebackers will have to be active against the run to make Houston beat SMU through the air with its struggling quarterbacks. Randall Joyner understands this is a must-win for SMU with UCF last on the schedule and he will leave his heart on the field against SMU's rivals. Expect him to be on his game and for SMU to do a good job at stopping the run against the Cougars.
What to Watch for on Defense for Houston
The Secondary. Houston's pass defense is ranked worse than SMU's, one spot below at 119th, and with Burcham at the helm, there's still a chance their defense could get torched. With SMU's inability and lack of desire to run the ball, it still will come down to the matchup of Burcham versus the secondary. With sophomore defensive backs Trevon Stewart and Adrian McDonald each having four interceptions on the year, there are plenty of playmakers back there for Houston, it's on Burcham to avoid mistakes if the SMU offense is going to have any success.
Key to the Game: Special Teams. SMU's special teams have been terrible this season and in a close game, could be the deciding factor. Chase Hover needs to be on and with Demarcus Ayers back in the return game for the Cougars, the coverage units will need to be great.
Prediction: Houston wins, 24-10.
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