After not facing much pressure since early last December, though, Smith and the offense need to be a bit more prepared than they were against JMU.
"It's got a little bit to do with timing because you have to speed up your routes,'' Dawson said. "You've got to speed up your routes, and obviously the quarterback's got to get the ball out of his hand quicker. So it would behoove us to get open quicker.''
Again, as it turned out, the blitz by James Madison didn't result in any sacks, but Smith did get hit a few times after releasing the ball, and big plays against the blitz were rare. He usually wound up scrambling or throwing the ball away.
"He got caught a couple of times and he got hit a couple of times,'' said coach Dana Holgorsen. "It was actually good to see James Madison hit us up like that because we hadn't seen that very much. We hadn't seen that very much for some time and we have to be able to recognize it and we to have be able to communicate up front as far as what's going on.''
For the most part the offensive line handled the pressure fairly well, but even that group wasn't entirely prepared.
"One time we had a miscommunication and one time they brought seven guys and we had six guys blocking,'' line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said. "That's the thing in pass protection, they can always outman you, every single down, if they want to.''
They can also pick on younger players on that line. The interior of the line - center Joe Madsen and guards Josh Jenkins and Jeff Braun - know all about blitzes, having started a combined 92 games. Tackles Pat Eger and Quinton Spain, though, are fresh faced by comparison. But together they should be better at handling pressure now that they've been awoken to the fact that teams will still bring it.
"Those three guys have been playing together for a long time. We put a lot on those three guys, and they didn't play too well this past week,'' Holgorsen said. "They were relatively soft and their communication wasn't very good. We're going to challenge them to get better.''
Just as importantly, though, Smith and his receivers and backs have to speed things up and learn to relish pressure.
"I know I say this all the time, but it really doesn't matter what they do,'' Dawson said. "It can't be about [the defense]. It's not about them. Did [JMU] change their scheme? Yes. Was it something we can't execute against? No. We just have to do our job.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.