1. JaBryce Taylor- The freshman had a breakout game for the Mustangs and proved why he could be a star for SMU in the coming years. On the opening kickoff of the game, he returned it 40 yards, a huge improvement compared to Cedric Lancaster last week. Taylor followed the kick return with a 27-yard rush on third down, on a reverse. The biggest play of the game for Taylor was his punt return for a touchdown as time expired in the second quarter. Prior to the return, SMU was down 22-12 and was about to head into halftime with no momentum, but Taylor's game changing play had the Mustangs pumped up as they headed to the locker room. The fact that Taylor didn't even have a catch yet impacted the game so greatly shows what kind of player he can be in the future.
2. Garrett Gilbert- Following a 388-yard performance against Texas Tech, Gilbert played even better in his second game. Throwing for 317 yards, on 35-of-48 passing, Gilbert again did not throw an interception and led the Mustangs down the field to win the game in the final seconds. Once again Gilbert did not throw for multiple touchdown passes, as is expected against an FCS opponent but played extremely well throughout the game. Gilbert may have had another touchdown pass, but a fumble by Keenan Holeman on the 10-yard line ended the drive. In the end, when it came down to it, Gilbert led the SMU offense down the field and to the victory, while picking apart the Bobcat defense, and executing the Run N' Shoot to perfection. If he can continue his strong play, SMU may stand a chance against a weak Aggie defense in two weeks.
3. K.C. Nlemchi- After Prescott Line was tackled illegally by the facemask and was forced to come out of the game for a few plays, Nlemchi came into the game, and gave June Jones no option but to keep him in the game. Nlemchi averaged 6.8 yards per rush, and scored a touchdown on his first career carry. More importantly, Nlemchi provided a boost of energy the SMU backfield hadn't experienced under Line. Nlemchi provided a burst of speed and shiftiness that was much needed, and picked up multiple third downs throughout the game, most notably on the final drive of the game. Nlemchi is a player who Mustang fans have been waiting to see, and he didn't disappoint. With Traylon Shead reportedly returning for SMU's next game, expect to see he and Nlemchi share carries against Texas A&M.
1. Penalties- A problem last week, penalties again almost cost SMU the chance for a much needed win. The Mustangs totaled 11 penalties for 85 yards but much like last week, it wasn't so much the penalties themselves, but when they occurred. Multiple times, SMU would pick up a first down, but a holding call would negate the play and force the Mustangs to punt. Conversely, pass interference calls or late hits on the quarterback would extend Montana State's drives. If SMU hopes to have any chance against Texas A&M or TCU, they must eliminate such unnecessary mental errors.
2. Rush Defense- The loss of starting middle linebacker Randall Joyner was felt heavily in tonight's game. Bobcat running back Cody Kirk combined with both Denarius McGhee and Shawn Johnson, wrecked havoc on the SMU defense on the ground. Powered by the read option, the Bobcat offense completely controlled the tempo in the second half, and through the effectives of the run, won the time of possession battle. Joyner will be a sight for sore eyes in the coming weeks for SMU fans, and will hopefully a hole in the middle of the SMU defense.
3. Red Zone Defense- While the SMU offense struggled again in the red zone, Montana State had no such problem. All four times the Bobcats entered the red zone, they came away with touchdowns. What is more concerning is the way Montana State dominated the SMU defensive line on the goal line, scoring two rushing touchdowns within the two-yard line. The defensive line is undoubtedly a weakness for this Mustang defense, but to get manhandled the way SMU did is very disconcerting.
3 Up, 3 Down
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