The Mustangs aren't a great defensive team, but at times they have been a disruptive one -- compiling 14 tackles-for-loss in the first two games of the season. So look for them to gamble, especially after watching Michigan maul Western Michigan last week for more than 300 yards rushing, as well as the Wolverines' recent struggles blocking stunts and gambling defensive fronts.
Therefore, this will almost be like a preseason game for Michigan, facing the kind of aggressive defensive scheme that's stymied U-M in the past, albeit from an opponent that is clearly physically inferior. Meaning it will be a good day if Michigan brings improved technique and communication to go along with the brute force up front offensively.
The Safety Dance
SMU Coach Sonny Dykes is an up-tempo, air raid devotee, which means the Wolverines are gonna have to cover in the secondary. Which also means last year's one glaring defensive weakness, the ability of Michigan's safeties to cover slot receivers downfield and in space, is going to be tested on Saturday.
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks is completing less than 50% of his passes, but so was Notre Dame's Brandon Wimbush before he burned Michigan downfield in the opener. Like Wimbush, Hicks has accuracy issues, but he also has big-play potential. Both of his touchdown passes this season went for more than 50 yards.
You can bet a passing game aficionado like Dykes is going to try and scheme up match ups with Michigan's safeties in coverage.
You Must Be Sound in the Kicking Game
So far junior Will Hart has been a revelation punting the ball, but the field-goal unit has whiffed each of the first two weeks of the season. First, on a botched snap against the Irish, and second when redshirt sophomore Quinn Nordin missed a field goal well within his range last week (from 40 yards).
Nordin has shown some streakiness already in his career. He made his first four attempts against Florida in last season's opener, before missing his next two. He then converted 10 straight field-goal attempts over his next five games, followed by a three-game drought, before going five-for-five down the stretch. Watching Nordin strut out to the field to drill a 45-yarder right through the uprights is exactly what we need to see with Big Ten play looming on the horizon.