Tough losses have been the trending storyline of SMU’s season. In some games, the Mustangs led early, in others, they had the game within their grasp in the fourth quarter, but were unable to close it out. (See: TCU, James Madison, East Carolina, Houston, Tulsa, Temple)
While the scores don’t always reflect how close a game was, in all six of the above loses, SMU had an opportunity to win and simply blew it. Chad Morris spoke to the media after Friday’s loss at home against Temple. He cited strength of schedule not as an excuse, but as a legitimate explanation of the Mustangs 1-8 record.
“If you look at the story of the season — the record says what you are — but when you look at our strength of schedule and who we’ve played, I think it says a whole lot about our guys. They’ve got a lot of fight in them. We’re close. We’ve just got to continue to find a way to not but ourselves right before the half or right after the half,” he said.
So like always, it’s time to turn our eyes forward, pour ourselves another drink, and get ready to take on a very talented and focused Navy team.
The Davis Situation
It seems a little absurd to be questioning whether or not you want to replace a quarterback with an overall passing efficiancy of 131.2, but in recent weeks Davis has been the source of not just costly turnovers that result in points for the opponents, but turnovers that are costly in their timing, as well.
Morris was asked after the Temple game what he thought about the Davis situation.
“I thought about (putting in Darrel Colbert). But I thought Matt was playing well. He was seeing the field well. He had a great a confidence about himself. This was against one of the top defenses in the country, so I felt like Matt gave us the best shot,” Morris said.
Davis has been playing well, but while his numbers have been good, they haven’t been great. And since the first game against Baylor they have been slowly trending downwards. The ultimate question is if the Davis problem is a result of poor pass protection (35 sacks in nine games), or if it’s time for a quarterback change?
At this point, it appears that we will see Matt Davis under center in Annapolis next week, but who really knows…?
On paper Navy’s defense appears to do most things by committee. In total, they have 12 sacks on the season, and are currently ranked third in the American in scoring and total defense. While Navy’s defense isn’t flashy, it did get the job done against No. 13 Memphis and passing phenom Paxton Lynch by containing the QB and forcing three turnovers.
SMU will have to rely on the dominance of Courtland Sutton, and the accuracy and feet of Matt Davis.
Navy’s Offense: AKA QB Keenan Reynolds
Navy’s basic offensive set is the triple option. Basically, they run all over everyone. Saturday against Memphis, Reynolds missed his opportunity to become the new FBS record holder for most career rushing touchdowns. He currently has 77, and will be looking to set the new record at home this Saturday.
Reynolds only averages 61.6 yards per game through the air, like I said, Navy likes to run all over everyone.
In general, the triple option is one of the hardest offense’s to prepare for much less defend, especially with an athlete like Reynolds in command.
In the past, SMU’s defense has struggled stopping the run game. The triple option could be a nightmare for the Mustangs.
What SMU Needs to do to Win
In order for SMU to put themselves in a legitimate position to win they will have to be able to do three things:
1) Generate points outside of the offense
2) Create turnovers
3) Get the passing game back on track.
Last week against Temple, the special teams finally came alive with a Braeden West return for a touchdown, and some very well placed punts. Special teams will have to step up and take some of the load off of the other two phases if the Mustangs hope to win.
And finally, if SMU hopes to get the win at Navy, the offense cannot afford to turn the ball over.
Jesse: Navy 55, SMU 45
Joey: Navy 49, SMU 31