3 Up, 3 Down

Pony Stampede editorial intern Russell Palmer shares three positive things he saw from SMU against Memphis and three negative

Three Up

1. Zach Line

Line looked spectacular today rushing for 127 yards and one touchdown. All throughout the game, he ran exceptionally hard, and consistently broke through the attempted Memphis tacklers. Line had over 100 rushing yards at half, and in the process overtook Craig James on the all-time SMU rushing list. If Line can continue to rush like he did today, it will force teams to put more men in the box and open up opportunities for Garrett Gilbert and company.

2. Garrett Gilbert

The star of the game was in fact Garret Gilbert, who shredded the Memphis offense, especially in the second half. In his first interception free game of the year, Gilbert looked like he finally understands the Run N' Shoot offense, and was extremely comfortable and poised in the pocket. Gilbert found open receivers throughout the game and was able to deliver accurate passes, including an incredible, on-the-run through to Der'rikk Thompson. Additionally, Gilbert showed off his running ability, rushing for two touchdowns, including a nice 10-yard scramble once the play broke down. If he continues to improve and play like he did today, SMU will be in the running for the Conference-USA West Division title.

3. Secondary

Led by Kenneth Acker, the SMU secondary played outstanding, limiting the Memphis passing attack to a feeble 85 yards and no touchdowns despite so many injuries. Chris Parks, who we've seen struggle all year, played very well, keeping pace with the opposing receivers and even making some nice plays when thrown at. Freshman Shakiel Randolph played very well too as he made numerous tackles on Memphis running back Brandon Hayes from the safety position and recovered his first fumble. Although nobody will say Memphis has a potent passing attack, the SMU defense still dominated them the entire game.

Three Down

1. Red Zone Offense

Despite winning comfortably, the game wasn't always that way, due mostly to the fact that in the first half the SMU offense could not score touchdowns in the red zone and had to settle for field goals. With a combination of questionable play calling and a lack of execution, SMU failed to score touchdowns three times in the red zone. Had they scored touchdowns, the game would have been over by halftime. Against a more worthy opponent, not scoring touchdowns in the red zone may come back to hurt the Mustangs.

2. Defensive Line

Although the SMU defense dominated Memphis, the SMU defensive line did struggle with putting pressure on Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam. SMU totaled only one sack on Karam, and star defensive end Margus Hunt did not have much impact on the game. In fact, he didn't even have a tackle. If SMU wants to win the West, Hunt and the rest of the defensive line will need to step up their play and get to the quarterback more often.

3. Offensive Line

On the other side of the ball, the SMU offensive line played inconsistently. They opened up massive holes for Zach Line to run through and played well down on the goal line, but protecting Gilbert was another story. Until the fourth quarter, Gilbert was under some pretty consistent pressure from Memphis and was sacked three times in the first half alone. As seen in the last quarter, when Gilbert has time, he can be lethal so providing more time for him against better opponents will be essential for SMU.

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