So what is it that Navy has on the Mustangs?
"Discipline and turning the ball over, that's what it came down to tonight," senior wide receiver Cole Beasley said, who will graduate 0-4 all-time against Navy. "We had some stupid penalties and some turnovers and that lost us the game."
The Mustangs had six penalties for 60 yards and J.J. McDermott threw two interceptions. Without those mistakes, SMU could have won the game.
"We knew we had to play one of those games where you do everything right and we didn't," coach June Jones said. "I said that if we make them punt three times, we win. But we didn't play good enough to win. Too many mistakes."
2. McDermott went 26 of 36 for 249 yards and a touchdown. He only had 10 incompletions, but two of those were interceptions. If he doesn't turn the ball over, one of which was in the end zone, things turn out differently.
The Mustangs knew coming into this game that with Navy's triple option (they only threw the ball twice all game), they would need to capitalize when they got the ball on offense. They knew they weren't going to stop the nation's third-ranked rushing attack, but they could win by outscoring them.
"You gotta outscore them..you gotta outscore them," said Jones, who played Navy's option the exact same way when he was in Hawaii. "When you get down in the [red zone] and don't score touchdowns, you can't outscore them.
"You only get so many chances to throw the ball vertical and we threw an interception here, missed another guy there, didn't see a guy on another play…you only get a couple of those and you gotta make them and we just didn't."
McDermott didn't have a bad game, but you can't win with costly errors.
"He did some good things, but I know he'd like to have a couple throws back for sure," Jones said.
One play in particular, McDermott's second interception, was a throw en route to Taylor Thompson, who has been taking reps at tight end in practice.
"You have a 5-9 corner matched on a 6-8 guy and if you don't make those plays, you don't win the game," Jones said.
3. SMU was 4 of 12 on third down and 3 of 5 in the red zone. As Jones repeatedly stated in the post-game press conference, when facing an offense like Navy's, its crucial to capitalize offensively to win the game.
Another big play McDermott didn't hone in on was a third-and-two in the third quarter. SMU ended up having to punt, but would have been able to convert had McDermott not been sacked and seen a wide open Terrance Wilkerson streaking down the sideline.
"I didn't [see him] and that was probably a screw up on my part," McDermott said.
The Mustangs' drives went as follows: punt, punt, McDermott interception, McDermott interception, field goal, touchdown, punt, pass broken up on fourth down, punt, touchdown.
Missed opportunities were key to the game.
4. The defense was frustrated, and rightfully so as the nation's third-ranked rushing attack carried the ball 64 times for 335 yards. Gotta give credit to that triple option. As Jones said, "it's not a fun one."
The Mustangs go from a run-heavy offense this week to a pass-happy one the next.
"It's like night and day," safety Chris Banjo said. "We have to respond. This game is already behind us and we have to get ready to beat Houston."
McDermott added, "We're preparing the same way we always do. You can't put too much into it. They're a good team, but we certainly feel like we can beat them. I mean, it's not like we're playing the Green Bay Packers, so we'll have a shot."
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