By Zach Walker
SMU Mustangs vs. East Carolina Pirates
Saturday – October 4 – 11:00 am
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium – Greenville
Records before the Game
SMU Mustangs: 0-4 (0-0 in AAC)
#22 East Carolina Pirates: 3-1 (0-0 in AAC)
Two players for both teams, to watch
QB Garrett Krstich – In the first quarter of the TCU, Krstich looked shaky and indecisive. He held the ball too long and didn’t burn out and run for some chunks of yards. Krstich didn’t exactly have ample time to cycle through his reads behind the Mustangs’ offensive line, which has given up almost eight sacks a game. Krstich needs to trust his eyes and pick up yardage with his legs.
LB Stephon Sanders – The Pirates are ranked for multiple reasons, and one of the reasons is that their running backs are averaging over 9.5 yards per attempt. Breon Allen is gaining just about 90 yards per game and has three rushing touchdowns on the season. Not that the Pirates would be lost without their running game, but if Sanders and the linebackers can discourage the use of the running game, and force the ball through the air, the defensive backs have been improving their in-air breakups as the season has progressed, and maybe can get one or two interceptions.
#22 East Carolina Pirates
QB Shane Carden – The weekend after Virginia Tech upset Ohio State, in rolled the Pirates, and they plundered the upset from under them, where Shane Carden threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns. The next week, against North Carolina, Carden topped himself with 438 yards and four touchdowns. And I’m peering over his career stats, Carden might be a dark horse quarterback in the draft.
LB Zeek Bigger – If the Mustangs want a chance at keeping this game close, they need to convert on third downs when the down and distance is, at least, somewhat negotiable. Bigger has a conference leading, 54 tackles, which means he knows how to wrap up and take advantage of weak blocks and backs trying to make something out of nothing. The Mustangs need to know where Zeek is on every play.
What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Pick up first downs. The Mustangs need to install new formations to aid themselves from early flubs. Less four wide receiver sets to start drives, and put in more jumbo, goal-line type formations to try and get a push for Kevin Pope, KC Nlemchi, and Prescott Line. I also liked using big Jeremiah Gaines at Tight end.
Prediction: SMU 10 – East Carolina 52
If the Mustangs can score early, and play like they did against TCU in the first two quarters, they can keep it close, they can make it a game. But will that happen? And if it does, how long can they hold?