Darius Johnson had his best game of the season with six receptions for 153 yards and averaged 25.5 yards per reception. When Garrett Gilbert needed to find a receiver, he would always look Johnson's way and the senior produced. He had a few big plays that set up SMU in position to score and didn't drop a ball. Unfortunately for Johnson, the Ponies needed days like these earlier in the season.
2. Zach Line and Ja'Gared Davis
Not to take away anything from the other players but Line and Davis played their hearts out. Even late in the fourth quarter, these two guys were playing with a lot of emotion, which the team as a whole lacked. Davis finished the night with 10 tackles including three for loss and a sack. Line's fumble proved costly but he still rushed for 94 yards and scored both of SMU's touchdowns while averaging close to five yards per carry.
3. Sunny Days Ahead?
I may get some backlash for this but a loss like this coupled with the Tulane disaster may open some eyes in the athletic department especially the eyes new AD Rick Rick Hart. Losses to these two teams in year five of June Jones' tenure tells you just where the program is going. Nowhere. SMU will continue to be a six or seven win team under Jones at best. With the move to the Big East and a brutal non-conference schedule, it's more likely to be 3-9 and 4-7. With that said, I believe it's time for SMU to move on and find someone new to lead this program into the Big East. Maybe this loss will help the cause. But then again it probably won't and that means fans better jump on the Larry Brown bandwagon right now.
1. Outside Receivers
If you watch our weekly show, you have heard me rant about the production from the outside receivers. It's been non-existent and nothing changed on Saturday. Der'rikk Thompson and Austin Fuller combined for five catches and 20 yards. Thompson was just bad. He dropped a couple of balls and only managed one catch for one yard. This is supposed to be your deep-threat receiver but defensive backs really haven't feared the bird this season. It's ridiculous that this is the kind of output you get from outside guys in what's supposed to be an explosive pass-heavy Run N' Shoot offense.
I know the secondary is in shambles right now but this was pitiful. Kenneth Acker had a nice game but everybody else needs to stay after practice and get some extra work in. Simple seam routes proved impossible to stop especially when passes went to big and physical tight ends, and that's on the safeties. Shakiel Randolph hasn't been nearly the player I thought he was going to be this year. I guess that's why walk-on Brett Haness replaced him against Houston. Jay Scott also struggled and Chis Parks has been getting burnt all year. Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue completed 24 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns against this depleted group of defensive backs.
3. The Trenches
Rice physically overpowered SMU in the trenches on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football. The Rice defensive line got constant pressure on Gilbert and sacked him four times. One of those was a strip sack, which led to another Rice score. SMU's defensive line failed to contain McHargue, and the Rice offensive line seemed to be getting great pushes in the fourth quarter especially on Margus Hunt, who again was an on-factor. When SMU needed a stop, the defensive line was pushed way back and Jered Eddington broke loose for a 36-yard scamper, which sealed the game. I believe this laid back lifestyle instilled by June is becoming detrimental when it comes to being physical and aggressive. Today, the Ponies looked apathetic just like their leader.
3 Up, 3 Down
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