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SMU Mustangs vs Tulane Green Wave Preview

When the SMU Mustangs have success running the ball, it sets up their passing game. Photo Courtesy: Michael Carnes

When the SMU Mustangs have success running the ball, it sets up their passing game.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Carnes

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By Zach Walker

Game Info
SMU Mustangs vs Tulane Green Wave
Saturday – October 29 – 3:00 p.m.
TV: ESPNN
Yulman Stadium – New Orleans – Louisiana

Records Before the Game
SMU Mustangs: 3-4 (1-2 in AAC)
Tulane Green Wave: 3-4 (0-3 in AAC)

Who’s got the advantage?
When SMU has the ball: The Mustangs looked great against the Houston Cougars, especially in the first half. They were poised to attack and take the fight straight at the defense. Ben Hicks looked very poised, mighty capable, and was finding the players that needed to get the ball. The drive that the Mustangs put together before the end of the first is, I know, the type of football the Chad Morris wants to play. Run to set up the pass, a clutch big run to set-up a lapse in coverage to spring an open receiver. Braeden West is truly taking full advantage of the starter role. Courtland Sutton had an incredible first half of dominance and James Proche is really coming around as a great interior weapon. The offensive line played a damn good game and didn’t allow Ed Oliver to completely take over, which he can do. Tulane isn’t an easy out on defense. They are an advantageous defense, with six interceptions and eleven fumble recoveries. The defense has seventeen sacks. I’ll tell you, the Green Wave have a defender that plays doubly better than his size. Nico Marley is five foot eight and around two hundred pounds, as a linebacker. He’s owns the stats sheet, three sacks, fifty-two tackles, six and a half tackles for a loss, a pick, and a pair of forced fumbles. He’s a player with eyes on everything, and could be a problem on blitzes. The defensive tackle, Tanzel Smart, has forty tackles, eight and a half for loss, and three sacks, at something like 315 pounds. He’s going to be a problem for pressure in the face of Hicks. Parry Nickerson is a danger with the ball, if he gets it. Two interceptions and 133 yards on those returns. ADVANTAGE: SMU. This isn’t a large advantage, because the Green Wave is pretty tough to walk away from because of how they play. And though the Mustangs have played better, they aren’t yet the “Light ‘em up” offense.

When Tulane has the ball: The Green Wave have a pair of very dangerous running backs. Dontrell Hilliard (JR) and Josh Rounds (RS-SR), and really there is a third in Lazedrick Thompson (RS-SR) who can take it out on a defense. These guys like to get into the endzone, with sixteen scores between them: Hilliard seven, Rounds five, and Thompson four times. 1,282 yard between the three of them, and all with healthy rushing averages around six per rush. The passing game doesn’t strike the same kind of fear. Quarterback Glen Cuiellette hasn’t played really very strong, with 653 passing yards across seven games with a completion percentage at 41, which is not good. I understand it’s a run heavy offense, but that number can’t be that low, then you’re playing against yourself. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game that compliments what the Mustangs do best, challenge the opposing receivers and force the quarterback to make a top-notch throw. The defensive has to contain the running game that’ll just keep throwing the noodles at the wall until they stick. That means Justin Lawler, Jarvis Pruitt, and the rest of the defensive line have to retool and prepare to shed blocks and make tackles along the line of scrimmage. The linebackers need to play well. Carlos Carroll, RC Cox, and Anthony Rhone need to be ready to play a sixty minute game versus this Green Wave ground attack. ADVANTAGE: SMU. The Tulane passing game is seemingly a non-factor in games.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Get over that Houston game. It has nothing to do with this game. Tackling is key. Getting these Tulane backs to the ground is paramount. Play with that same flame from last Saturday.

Prediction: SMU 27 – Tulane 20. Tulane’s defense isn’t a joke, but I think that same thing about SMU’s squad as well.

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