By Zach Walker
SMU Mustangs vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Saturday – November 8 – 11:00 am
TV: CBS Sports Network
Chapman Stadium – Tulsa
Records before the game:
SMU Mustangs: 0-7 (0-3 in AAC)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane: 1-7 (1-3 in AAC)
Two players for both teams, to watch:
QB Matt Davis – It should be the Matt Davis show for the next few games unless he’s just ineffective in total. What Matt Davis has brought to the table so far this season is a player who can rush the ball with solid efficiency. But he hasn’t shown much through the air, other than a 41-yard shot to Der’rick Thompson last game against Memphis. Unless the Mustangs are going to start running an option offense, which I’d personally like to see more option-pitch plays, Matt Davis is going to have to get comfortable spinning the ball across the field.
LB Kevin Pope – Since rejoining the defense full time last week, the Linebacker corps seemed to be a little fresher, but maybe still re-adjusting to the mid-season addition to the corps. But what can’t be overlooked was Pope’s production, 12 solo tackles, and a sack. That’s instant impact. Against Tulsa, Pope and his linebackers are going to have corral the six foot, 215 pound Zack Langer, who has 479 yards on the season, on 125 carries.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
WR Keevan Lucas – Tulsa is actually, the 18th best team in the nation through the air, with 295.1 passing yards per game. Lucas is averaging a touchdown catch per game, while only needing 71 receiving yards to reach 1000 on the season. He really crushed it last week against Memphis, with 11 catches and 120 yards. Seemingly disappointing compared to his season opener against Tulane, where he opened up for 233 yards and three touchdowns, on 13 catches. Ajee Montes is going to need a serious performance to keep Lucas in check. And on the other side, Shakiel Randolph might be going up against a player that can stand eye to eye with him, Keyarris Garrett, who is equally 6 foot 4 inches tall.
DE Derrick Alexander – One of the more veteran players on this very young Tulsa team, and one of the more effective, as well. Alexander has five sacks this season, and a couple of forced fumbles. If Matt Davis is going to drop back and try and beat the Golden Hurricane from the pocket, Chauncey Briggs and Kris Weeks are going to need to know where Alexander is lining up on every play. With the change of quarterback, and Davis’ tendency to dance around in the pocket, looking for a lane to run to open up, I’d expect to see Tulsa unleash a “Golden Hurricane” of blitzes and force him to make a spectacular play.
What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Big plays in the passing game. Tulsa has been burned by a lot of big plays, 33 plays of 30 yards or more this season. In those 33 plays, the yardage given up (1690 yards) is 43 percent of the total yardage the Golden Hurricane has given up all season long. So, I’m not saying that the Mustangs have to chew their food and savor it, in this game, taking big bites can really flatten the game in SMU’s favor.
Prediction: SMU 21 – Tulsa 31: I think against Matt Davis, a relatively fresh quarterback who bails quicker than a lot of quarterbacks, that the Golden Hurricane is going to blitz Davis into making either the bad play or the incredible play.