Top 5 Takeaways: Mustangs’ AAC opener ends with a thud Final Score: East Carolina 49, SMU 23

East Carolina 49, SMU 23

Man…I feel like we just did this.

Purple…gold…all white uniforms…a mobile quarterback the SMU defense just couldn’t seem to contain…

AAC play is officially underway for the Mustangs – Joey Hayden here to give you my Top 5 Takeaways from the East Carolina game (in no particular order).

1. The first 19 minutes, 52 seconds

Coin toss. Boom, SMU wins, “We want the ball.”

Kickoff, 15-yard pass to Shelby Walker, boom, 60-yard catch and run to Jeremiah Gaines for an immediate score.

A couple of minutes later, Kyran Mitchell picks off a pass over the middle, and gives SMU the ball on ECU’s side of the field. One play later…boom, it’s tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme, that’s right on time, it’s tricky. Matt Davis hits a swing pass to Xavier Jones, who pulls up and launches one to a wide open Xavier Castille for a touchdown.

More defensive stops, another touchdown, another interception that led to a field goal, and suddenly the Mustangs (seven point underdogs) found themselves up 23-7 early in the 2nd quarter.

When I was really young, my parents let me watch Jurassic Park…up to the point where the Tyrannosaurus Rex gets loose and people start getting eaten. If there are any young children in the room, now is the time to turn off the movie.

2. Feels like Summer

After Blake Kemp’s second interception that led to the field goal that put SMU up 23-7, ECU subbed in quarterback James Summer, and that’s when ECU’s offense got hot (Get it? His name’s Summer…).

Last week, SMU gave up 276 yards rushing to James Madison quarterback Vad Lee. I’ll say that again…276 yards RUSHING to QUARTERBACK Vad Lee.

The defense struggled again mightily with a mobile quarterback. While Summers himself only ran for 85 yards, he did score two rushing touchdowns (also threw two more), helped lead the Pirates to over 300 yards on the ground, and really set the ECU offense in motion.

3. The last 40 minutes, 8 seconds

SMU’s offense accumulated 85 total yards and scored zero points.

Matt Davis was sacked eight times in the game, four of which came from senior linebacker Montese Overton who just constantly overwhelmed SMU’s offensive line.

Also, the Mustangs’ usually dependable rushing attack was nonexistent. As a team, they finished with 40 net yards on 30 attempts (thanks, in part, to all the sacks).

SMU’s defense gave up 42 unanswered points.

There’s not much to say here, pretty similar to the James Madison performance. Couldn’t stop a running quarterback, was constantly gashed up the middle in the run game, and coverage breakdowns provided plenty of opportunities for the Pirates to pick up yards in chunks.

4. Production from unlikely sources

Something positive!

Due to East Carolina’s unbreaking motivation to let anyone but Courtland Sutton beat them, other Mustangs had an opportunity to shine on offense.

Jeremiah Gaines scored on the 60-yard touchdown to open the game.

The Xavier-to-Xavier connection added a new wrinkle into Chad Morris’ offense. (They attempted another similar trick play later in the game, not nearly as successful as the receiver headed downfield was knocked off his feet.)

And eight different Mustangs had a reception, including Ryheem Malone who scored his first career touchdown.

5. Back to the dark times…

Thanks to the momentum shattering loss to James Madison – the excitement from the student body seems to be all but gone.

I’m sure there were people sitting underneath me on the home side that I couldn’t see from my view in the press box, but looking out on the other half of the stadium…for most of the game you may not have even known a football game was going on.

It’s a short week for SMU. They take on the undefeated Houston Cougars Thursday night in their second conference matchup. We’ll see what #PonyUpTempo has up its sleeve then. If there is anything…

1 year ago
Written by Joey Hayden
Joey is the managing editor and staff writer for The Stable, as well as the host of the "Inside The Stable" podcast, and in his spare time he is a digital sports editor for The Dallas Morning News. He graduated from SMU in 2014, follows sports religiously, and knows for a fact Han Solo shot first...