1. The Manster
I stole this term from my buddy and editor Greg Tepper over at Dave Campbell's Texas Football. In a weekly column he names a player that most resembles a monster, but we all know is just a beast of a man. That's exactly what Zach Line is. The senior bruiser pounded the Green Wave defense all day long to the tune of 177 yards. When SMU needed him, he was there to carry the load over and over again and give this inept offense some type of life. Line ran his heart out and averaged over six yards per carry. Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said the key to winning the game would be stopping Zach Line. They didn't and despite Line's efforts his line and most importantly his head coach, let him down.
2. Johnson & Joseph
During this week's preview show, I said expect Johnson to put even better numbers against Tulane after having a career night against UTEP. He proved right by snagging 11 balls for 106 yards and a touchdown. Johnson is getting better and better each game and it's clear Garrett Gilbert really likes him. Johnson is just two years removed from being a quarterback so he might drop a ball like he did today, but his athleticism will ultimately prevail. With Darius Johnson out for an unspecified reason, June Jones called on Darius Joseph, and the redshirt freshman stepped up in a big way. Previously in Jones' doghouse, Joseph made the most of his opportunity and caught five passes for 54 yards and a late touchdown that gave SMU its first lead of the game. Most importantly, he didn't drop balls, which is known for doing during practice.
3. Second Half Defense
Minus that last minute drive, the SMU defense tightened up in the second half and absolutely shut Tulane down, which gave the offense opportunity to climb back into the game. The ‘D' forced six three-and-outs and shut out the Green Wave for 29 minutes. Unfortunately, they didn't make that final stop. But on a positive note, Randall Joyner, who once again filled in for Cameron Rogers, led the Mustang charge. Joyner led the team with seven tackles, one pass break-up and a forced fumble in the third quarter that prevented Tulane from taking a three-score lead and completely shifted the momentum of the contest. Margus Hunt was also able to put pressure on Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin and the Green Wave only mustered 40 yards rushing all game.
1. Red Zone Offense
All season long, SMU has had trouble scoring inside the red zone. Whether it's turnovers, play-calling or boneheaded mistakes, SMU just can't seem to get physical and punch it in. Every time Mustang fans hear 1st and goal SMU, they cringe. It's simply ridiculous. Early in the game, SMU had it's chances but kept settling for field goals. It shouldn't be too difficult to pound it in with arguably one of the top-10 running backs in the nation especially when your playing a defense that ranks 109 out of 124 teams. To put it into perspective, SMU had five 1st and goal opportunities from inside the 5-yard line and only scored a touchdown on one of those chances. Absolutely inexcusable.
2. Kamehameha The Great
The man listed above is whom June Jones thinks he is when it comes to football. If you're too lazy to look it up just know that Jones has never truly embraced his time at SMU, and it's time for him to pack his bags and head back to the islands. He was indifferent to say the least after the game, and it's obvious the team just isn't responding to his mickey mouse play-calling. There were quite a few head scratchers like why is Garrett Gilbert running the option or why did he only give Zach Line the ball twice in the first quarter? But ‘we do what we do' and I guess that just mans being stubborn enough to cost your team games. The big two SMH decisions came late in the game with six point lead in hand. While trying to run down the clock, Jones decided to have Gilbert throw a fade route to Gehrig Dieter. The play had been unsuccessful and also stopped the clock. With an opportunity to finish the game and have Line pound it in from the 2-yard line, Jones decided to kick a field goal and well, the rest is history. For $2 mil, SMU deserves better.
3. Garrett Gilbert
Before some of you guys say EJ, he looked better especially in those two drives where he led them to touchdowns in crunch time. Yes, I can't disagree. But must I remind you that SMU was playing Tulane? This a team that was 0-5 and allowed Louisiana Lafayette to score 41 points last week! This is supposed to be an explosive offense and Gilbert once again failed to A) Pass for over 300 yards B) Complete 50 percent of his passes and C) Not turn the ball over at pivotal points in the game. Remember, his interception came when SMU was just outside of the red zone. He was almost picked off four times in the first half and doesn't seem to have touch on his passes i.e. horribly thrown fade routes. Gilbert must improve or something needs to change… now and I'm not just talking about the QB ‘guru.'
3 Up, 3 Down
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