Date: Saturday, September 22nd
Kickoff Time: Noon EST
TV: ESPN News
Betting Line: Navy -7.5, FPI: 50.5%
Series Record: Navy leads series 12-7 and are on an 8 game winning streak.
Last Meeting: Navy won 43-40, November 11th, 2017
As I expected, SMU has failed to record a win in their first three games. However, what has been shocking over this three game stretch is how poorly SMU has played. Right now, the Mustangs are averaging 18.3 points per game and allowing over 44.3 a game. Things have gone so poorly, there has even been a quarterback controversy on SMU’s hands. But as I was saying the past couple weeks, and I will say it again here, now is the time for SMU to turn around their season. This time they have a legitimate shot if they can just stay competitive.
The biggest things that happened last week was on the offensive side of the ball. After throwing a pick-six to cap off a sub-par first half, Ben Hicks was benched in favor of true freshman, William Brown. The fact that Sonny Dykes would go all the way to the true freshman when playing a ranked team, away from home, shows the confidence Dykes has in his young quarterback. This quarterback change could potentially lead to a switch before the game against Navy, which adds an extra element of surprise.
Defensively, I do not think people were expecting a whole lot from SMU. They were playing a top 25 team on the road against five-star athletes. I thought the SMU defense played a pretty good half of football, in particular Mikial Onu intercepting a ball that was a sure-fire touchdown. Once Michigan got hot, it was pretty clear the game was over. The defense put up a decent fight against a tough team.
Offensively, SMU will have to modify their system based on who is starting. If you missed my quarterback comparison article, I came to one main conclusion: Dykes should go with the hot hand and start Brown. Many of you who voted in the poll agreed with my sentiment that a change is needed.
My overall point on the offensive side of the ball is the fact that we have no idea what to expect. Brown is still kind of an unknown commodity. If he is to start this game against Navy, I will be expecting a lot of rolling outside the pocket and hitting the short hitch routes. In addition, I would expect more quarterback designed runs. Basically, letting athletes be athletes.
Conversely, if Hicks is to start, expect deep throws like the 50 yard strike in the Michigan game. Hicks wants to drop back and throw as many times as he can. But SMU has to put him in a position to manage the game and not put immense pressure on him.
On the defensive side of the ball, I still do not expect much from this defense against Navy as they have been able to gash everyone in the running game. The triple option takes discipline to stop, and I’m not quite sure if SMU will be able to. The last time these teams met, it was a shootout. As far as I see it, Navy has gotten better and SMU has gotten worse from a season ago. This defense will most likely get shredded again and it will be up to the offense to try and get back into a shootout with Navy. This game will be the real test for the SMU defense as they have a chance to play against a fellow conference mate versus a Top 25 team.
Three Keys to the Game
- Whoever starts at quarterback needs to finish the game. Unless the game goes completely sideways, the starter needs to stay the starter. Let Hicks or Brown finish the game so at least Dykes will know which direction he wants to go in for the rest of the season. There is a cupcake game after this one where Dykes will really have the chance to experiment with his quarterbacks. Now is not the time.
- Get the run game going. What helps a quarterback? A solid run game. SMU is currently averaging 82 yards a game. That’s not cutting it right now.
- Play disciplined on defense. Just like the previous weeks, the defense just has to keep them close. The defense has far outplayed the offense this year. They need to be the cornerstone of this team while the Mustangs try to find their offensive identity.
I think SMU sticks with Ben Hicks despite William Brown being the hot hand. I think the offense improves a tad because Navy does not have that great of a defense. However, it is not enough as Navy continues their winning ways and defeats the Mustangs.
Navy 38 SMU 23
Who wins the game?
This poll is closed