SMU 31, North Texas 13
FINALLY! It’s been too long since I was inside Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Glad to be back, glad to be back in the press box, happy to see how proud (and drenched in Gatorade) Coach Morris was in his post game press conference, it’s a great day to be a Mustang!
Week 2 is over, here we go – Here are my Top 5 Takeaways from SMU’s big win over North Texas (in no particular order).
1. It’s been 665 days…
November 16, 2013 – SMU def. Connecticut, 38-21.
Garrett Gilbert led the way through the air with 353 yards and four scores, hitting Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman both for two touchdowns a piece.
That’s the last time a home crowd at Gerald J. Ford Stadium got to cheer on a victorious Mustang squad after the alma mater as they headed back to the locker room and go home happy.
The first half may have been a cause for concern as SMU only went into the break with a 7-6 lead after a slew of turnovers, but they got it together in the second half, outscoring North Texas 21-0 in the fourth quarter.
2. SMU’s leading rushers
This could almost become a weekly thing to keep track of as the season progresses, and according to Chad Morris and the coaching staff, they’re staying right on top of these numbers, as well.
vs. Baylor, Matt Davis: 115 yards
vs. Baylor, rest of team: 88 yards
vs. North Texas, X. Jones/B. West/P. Line: 164 yards
vs. North Texas, Matt Davis: 115 yards
What do you know? The Ponies found themselves a run game this week that didn’t flow exclusively through the quarterback position.
Xavier Jones impressed with some of his runs against North Texas (minus his fumble), and Braeden West found holes of his own, both in the run game and in kick returns.
Matt Davis’ number is even a tad inflated, if you take away his two touchdown runs (50, 14), he only had 51 rushing yards from the rest of the game. A very positive step, and a very positive 444 yard output from the offense.
3. Stand up defense
Three first half fumbles, two by the offense, and one on a muffed punt, put the SMU defense in a few brutal positions.
The first fumble came as quarterback Matt Davis was diving into the endzone to seemingly put the Mustangs up 14-3 only to get hit on the goal line, fumble into the endzone, and have North Texas recover.
The defense comes out, first play, tipped ball, picked off by Anthony Rhome…only to have that play called back by pass interference. Alas, North Texas was still forced to punt five plays later…where Braeden West and the SMU special teams would proceed to muff the punt, and be unable to recover the ball, handing it to North Texas at the SMU 30 yard line.
Right back on the field, the defense picked up the rest of the team, stopped the Mean Green and forced a field goal, preserving SMU’s lead.
SMU’s third first half fumble led to an 11 play North Texas drive, only to end with a missed 48 yard field goal try.
The defensive unit saved the day in the first half. A game that could have swung in the opposite direction ended with the Mustangs heading to the locker room still holding on to a 7-6 lead.
4. Student section
Personally, I was very curious to see the student turnout for Game No. 2 – we weren’t playing Baylor, this game wasn’t on national TV, and the students’ track record lately is…..what it is.
But I was pleasantly surprised with not only how many students showed up for the game, but how many stayed to the end – probably 70 or so percent of them.
— Joey Hayden (@jhayden24seven) September 12, 2015
5. Mistakes and miscues
Young teams make mistakes, but with next week’s opponent, those need to stop – quick.
As we’ve discussed, SMU put the ball on the ground three times in the first half. The special teams muffed a punt return, along with snapping the ball over the top of our punter’s head only to have him tackled for a 20 yard loss and a turnover on downs (could be included in No. 4 above, the defense would hold the Mean Green to a field goal).
SMU continually attempted to guess snap counts on defense, and guess wrong, jumping offsides. Slot receivers ran freely in the middle of the field (luckily mostly unnoticed by North Texas QBs).
Just a few things I noticed that have to be improved on before we take on No. 3 TCU in Fort Worth next week.
We have another shot to shock the world, and I’d like to relive this game again…