1. The offense played its worst game this weekend at Southern Miss since the throttling at Texas A&M in Week 1. The good news is, this team is angry about it. Today at practice, the guys did a lot of running and conditioning drills and the leaders stepped up and are taking the blame for the outcome.
"I don't think anyone will tell you that they played their best," said quarterback J.J. McDermott, who went 16 of 32 for 173 yards and two interceptions. "I mean, I certainly didn't. We missed out on opportunities. This week [against Tulsa] it looks like we'll have some more opportunities. We have a decent idea of what we're going to get from them."
One of the biggest problems was the offensive line's numerous false starts (SMU had a total of nine penalties for 55 yards, most of those were from false starts).
"There were some mental errors on calls," June Jones said of the false starts. "Physically, we got beat two or three times. I can live with physical failures, but mental failures? That's hard for me to deal with."
Not being able to capitalize on red zone chances was also a problem.
"I mean that was huge," McDermott said. "If you look at it, if I hit Cole [Beasley] there in the first half and again at the end of the game, we're up 17-13. Or, say we got down and score instead of having to kick that field goal, that's 21 points.
"You don't get many chances in the red zone and you definitely have to capitalize when you're down there."
2. Although he didn't score a touchdown for the first time this season, Zach Line had an incredible night against Southern Miss, rushing for a season high 163 yards.
"Zach played his best football game," Jones said.
Line, who's been banged up pretty much all season and wears Kevlar pads to lessen the blows he takes, did not take any snaps at practice last week. But that didn't matter because he was ready to play.
"I've not had a guy not take one snap at practice and play that type of game before," Jones said. "That was new to me. And that includes all my days in the pros."
3. Last week backup quarterback Kyle Padron hurt his back in the weight room. He did not dress out on Saturday, nor was he at practice Tuesday. One coach said that he has a herniated disc and will be out for at least 10 days. He said it hurts Padron to even sit still.
Stephen Kaiser, a redshirt freshman, was taking reps with the first- and second-teams today and Jones said he is McDermott's new backup.
"Conner [Preston] will take some reps, too, but Stephen has been here and is starting to get it," Jones said. "When he's in competition, he seems to turn it up. We'll keep giving him some reps and hopefully he'll be ready if his number is called."
Jones didn't admit it, but even if Preston is the better choice (he probably is for the future), they can't name him the No. 2 quarterback because that would waste his redshirt.
4. Besides Padron, there are still other injuries to be reported: Though he played the whole game Saturday, Beasley did not practice today. That's how it will probably be the rest of the season. Knees are tough and Jones said last week that Beasley will just be cautious in practice and play on the weekends.
Darius Johnson and Ja'Gared Davis didn't practice either. McDermott practiced and looked fine, but is also sore.
Der'rikk Thompson practiced after not playing much after getting the wind knocked out of him this weekend. Both Thompson and Jones said he could have gone back in, but Jones wanted to keep him out as a precaution.
"Everyone is a little sore, but that's this time of year," Jones said. "But everyone will be available [for this weekend]."
Linebacker Byron Brown didn't practice due to a concussion he sustained on a kickoff Saturday. It was his second head injury in as many games. He will not be available for at least two weeks, maybe longer.
5. Tulsa's passing defense is ranked No. 11 out of 12 teams in Conference USA. SMU didn't have much luck with the Run and Shoot this weekend, but should be able to exploit the Hurricanes' secondary, as they allow offenses to pass for 300 yards a game.
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