By Zach Walker
SMU Mustangs vs. UCF Knights
Saturday – November 22 – 11:00 am
Bright House Networks Stadium – Orlando
Records before the game:
SMU Mustangs: 0-9 (0-5 in AAC)
UCF Knights: 6-3 (4-1 in AAC)
Two players for both teams, to watch:
QB Matt Davis – Davis threw the really well against USF, completing over 70 percent of his passes. But maybe what the Mustangs need to get to back to, is what gave them a shot against Tulsa, and that’s Matt Davis running the ball, with KC Nlemchi and Prescott Line coming in and collecting big yards on running downs. A wrinkle that seemed to be added against USF was the inside screen pass, where the blockers create a pocket to complete a very short pass in the middle of the field and allow the receiver to just use his pure speed to get yards after the catch. Davis really did a solid job from a passing stand point, but just needs to be the double-sided blade for the Mustangs’ offense.
SS Hayden Greenbauer – For the Mustangs to snap this losing streak, the defense is going to have to be more than a defense that gets stops and gets the ball back to the offense after a punt, they’re going to have to start stealing possessions. No more ball hits the hands then hits the ground, no more re-recoveries for the offense when a Mustangs’ defender had a shot at the ball on the ground, and they have to play the ball, generally, stronger. Hayden Greenbauer recovered a fumble against the Bulls, and leads the team with three turnovers, but no one else on the team has more than one turnover, and that has to change. The Mustangs have to keep the game in front them, and create turnovers and take more aggressive chances against the ball.
RB William Stanback – Last year’s season finale, in the frozen tundra of University Park, the UCF Knights rolled into town against a Garrett Gilbert-less SMU team. The defense faced a soon-to-be third overall pick, Blake Bortles, and a bruising back in Storm Johnson. Both were clearly affected by the elements and played in a slugfest against the SMU defense. Stanback is actually bigger than Storm Johnson, and it can kind of be seen in his stats, very Prescott Line type numbers. 3.6 yards per carry average, but Stanback has eight rushing touchdowns on the season, and he usually “buys in bulk,” or scores in bunches, having four games with a pair of touchdowns, with the overtime game against BYU being an air and ground affair. Seeing how the beast of USF’s Marlon Mack faired against the Mustangs, a 4.6 yards average, the linebackers are going to need to ratchet down to keep SMU in the game.
WR Breshad Perriman – The UCF quarterback isn’t exactly stable. Justin Holman is a big guy, 6 foot 4, but his completion percentage is sub 58 and that’s not very consistent or stable in my mind. But when he gets the ball into his receiver’s hands, really good things happen. J.J. Worton catches the most passes (34) but if the Knights want to storm the castle, getting Breshad Perriman the ball is essential. Perriman almost averages a quarter of the field per catch (23.1) and has six touchdowns on the season. The Knights have a very large receiving corps, with their top four options being 6 foot tall or taller, and Perriman is the biggest of the group, at 6 foot 3 and 214 pounds, and that likely means that Shakiel Randolph with draw the matchup and that will be a very intriguing battle.
What will it take for the Mustangs to win?
Well, the game is on the road, so I’m going to expect a more spirited effort from the Mustangs. If Matt Davis and the Mustangs backs can keep the ball going forward, they have a very good shot to upset a good UCF team. On defense, get nasty. Get aggressive, get physical on the outside against the Knights large receivers, and take some chances when the ball is in the air.
Prediction: SMU 20 – UCF 31
Maybe some of those chances on the ball backfire late, and the Knights get some big plays off of some aggressive play from the defense.