#11 Houston Cougars vs SMU Mustangs Preview

Expect Gerald Ford Stadium to be rocking when the Cougars come to town. Photo Courtesy: John McStravick
Expect Gerald Ford Stadium to be rocking when the Cougars come to town.
Photo Courtesy: John McStravick
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Brought to you by: Big Shucks

By Zach Walker

Game Info
SMU Mustangs vs #11 Houston Cougars
Saturday – October 22 – 6:00 p.m.
Gerald Ford Stadium – Dallas – Texas

Records before the Game
SMU Mustangs (2-4, 0-2 AAC)
Houston Cougars: (6-1, 3-1 AAC)

Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball: Against the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa, the SMU Mustangs’ offense took a clear and apparent step in the correct direction. I’m not going to take the piss out of his “yards per attempt” stats. Just as against Temple, after he got absolutely freight trained he was throwing with intensity, Ben Hicks needed time for the tires to warm. The Tulsa game showed what is one of the better qualities of Hicks, his ability to spread the ball around. Of course, getting Courtland Sutton the ball is a great idea and in the best interest of the team, but getting others involved helps the coverage faced. Personally, I don’t understand not putting Jeremiah Gaines in on more plays, I believe Gaines is the tool for every situation, solid blocker and then a mismatch in the field with soft hands. James Proche has shown his abilities on the field through half a season. Good hands, great route running, and the ability to adjust to the ball being thrown. Braeden West has really had a kick ass season thus far, has really shouldered the load better than most probably would have thought. West’s ability to get lost in the fray of the play has really yielded good results. Having this game come off of an idle weekend for SMU is a good timing moment, because having that extra weekend of preparation SHOULD be an advantage for the Mustangs. The Cougars on defense have not been kind to opponents who try and run the ball, allowing just 2.7 yards per carry. Howard Wilson is a feared member in the secondary, and Steven Taylor is going to look to wear Ben Hicks like a jersey in the game.

When Houston has the ball: It’s time to play against Greg Ward Jr. (Heavy Sigh). He’s the American Athletic Conference brand of Lamar Jackson. He’s a good passer, and a dagger of a runner. Last weekend against Tulsa, Ward only missed eight passes, but had an interception. That’s not it. Twenty-five carries for 142 yards. He’s a deadly double threat. He can feign a run, slow down, and find a receiver who has become uncovered or who now has single coverage. Greg Ward is a nightmare, thank goodness for that extra weekend of preparations. The Cougars have a lot of weapons. No running back has more than 250 yards, but the five that have at least 100 yards rushing on the season, they each have at least a touchdown. Dillon Birden had a great game against Tulsa, 14 carries for 82 yards and three scores. The top three receivers are all dangerous, and all have the eye of Ward equally. Lindell Bonner, Steven Dunbar, and Chance Allen are catching a first down per reception. I love the Mustangs ability to matchup in the secondary. Horace Richardson, Jordan Wyatt, and William Jeanlys each manning up across from the top three of the Cougars. Darrion Millines is my X-Factor in this game. The Mustangs don’t have a linebacker to sit spy on Greg Ward, so that slides the responsibility to the safety, and that’s Millines. He’s got to get to Ward in this game. He’s got to tag Ward early in this game, and maybe make him second guess escaping into the field.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
The Mustangs have to contain Greg Ward’s escapes to a minimum, and the Mustangs’ must run the ball as well as they can.

Prediction: Houston 45 – SMU 38. I can see a victory through the trees, but the offense will have to answer what Houston can do.