SMU Mustangs at #23 Baylor Bears: Game Preview

Matt Davis and the SMU Mustangs look to start the season 2-0. Photo Courtesy: Sandy McAnally
Matt Davis and the SMU Mustangs look to start the season 2-0. Photo Courtesy: Sandy McAnally
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By Zach Walker

Records Before the Game
SMU Mustangs: 1-0 (0-0 in AAC)
#23 Baylor Bears: 1-0 (0-0 in Big 12)

Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball: The Mustangs won at UNT on solid team play, both on offense and defense, but if they don’t square up the quarterback situation, this is going to capsize the season before it starts to gain traction. I didn’t get a solid understanding of what went on for Matt Davis, whether the switch to Ben Hicks was performance based, to give Hicks some in-game work, or was just to protect him from himself. He’s made claims to be smarter about taking hits, sliding more and ducking out of bounds, instead of the 180-proof hits in the open-field. Hicks came into the game and looked solid, but neither quarterback really rhythmed. They can’t expect to beat teams completing less than fifty percent of their passes. The ground game was solid, Xavier Jones was explosive and had good blocking when he was charged with the task. Davis was good on the ground, but his taking hits must change. Courtland Sutton is a monster. Really, not much else to say. Water is wet and Sutton is a beast, just conveying the facts. The Mustangs really need to spread the wealth, though. Distribute the ball across more of their weapons, and force Baylor to cover more options, not just key on Sutton. Baylor allowed 78 total yards in sixty minutes, don’t care about the competition level, that’s impressive as hell.

When Baylor has the ball: Okay, some things change, other things stay the same. Baylor can still score at will. It was against a FCS team, so really, they showed a real character changing point to restrain themselves from throwing up 70 or so points like in seasons past. Baylor has a lot of familiar names. Seth Russell, Shock Linwood, and KD Cannon. That’s the Baylor triple threat that can score from just about any blade of green on that field. The game is always speed, and Linwood is most likely going to end this game against SMU close to nine yards per carry. Russell led scoring drives on every possession he was out on the field for, six touchdowns and a pair of field goals. Encouraging is a massive understatement when referring to SMU’s defense. They forced turnovers, they got pressure, and more importantly got to the quarterback. This is now against Baylor, a real a benchmark for gauging the Mustangs’ defense. They must get beyond cramping up out on the field. Darrion Millines and Horace Richardson must stay out on the field. They played great. Millines was ultra-physical and Richardson was great in stiff coverage. Justin Lawler had a three sack game, and I’d love to see him continue to get after it and Deon Green was great in the middle. But against Baylor, it’s all about making sure they tackle. The linebackers can’t miss tackle, they must wrap up.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win? Tackle and complete passes. Just do the basic things correctly. And don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Prediction: SMU 31 – Baylor 52