3 Up, 3 Down

We share three positives from SMU's loss and three negatives!

Up

1. Return of Randall Joyner

Randall Joyner returning to the SMU line up made a vast difference in the intensity and overall play of the defense. At the start of the game TCU struggled to get anything going on offense. Joyner's leadership had a definitive impact pre-snap as he called the plays and orchestrated Mason's defense. Joyner was very good in pass coverage and habitually caused disruption at the line of scrimmage even though his name wasn't on the stat sheet. Eventually the SMU defense gave way to Trevone Boykin and the SMU offense but Joyner being on the field was an incredibly positive sign for the Ponies, and he will be an impact player as long as he stays healthy.

2. Jeremy Johnson

Slot receiver Jeremy Johnson had his best game of the season catching 11 balls for 159 yards and a touchdown. Over the past few weeks, Johnson has not been targeted as much as usual, but he and Gilbert re-established their connection against the TCU secondary. Johnson was able to work the short to immediate routes well all day long and caught his second 50-yard bomb from Gilbert as well. Johnson continues to rank as one of the top wide receivers in the nation in terms of catches and with Gilbert continuing to throw the ball over 40 times per game, he should stay there.

3. Kenneth Acker

In one of the biggest games on the SMU schedule, Kenneth Acker finally showed up. The senior cornerback was a stalwart on the outside breaking up passes and saving SMU from what could have been two long touchdowns. Acker's play today was by far more aggressive than any other game this year. He jumped on routes and played receivers tight. His fire and physicality will be much needed in coming the weeks as SMU heads into conference play.

Down

1. Turnovers

The SMU offense significantly cut down in the penalty department and replaced the flags with turnovers. Garret Gilbert's touchdown to interception ratio went from 2:1 before the game to 4:5 after. SMU can not expect to stay in games if they give the football away. The Mustangs also fumbled the ball three times but luckily only lost one of them. Turnovers were the reason the game went from being in-reach to out of hand.

2. Offensive Line

The offensive line was the primary reason for the turnovers. They started off doing a great job giving Gilbert a boatload of time in the first quarter. But when the second quarter started they were right back to their old ways. Gilbert got sacked seven times and that was without TCU's best pass rusher Devonte Fields. On at least two of Gilbert's interceptions, he was hit while throwing the ball. One has to respect Gilbert for his toughness because he got crushed, flattened and rocked on some of those bone-crushing hits. The offensive line simply has to do better.

3. Defensive Breakdown

The defense had been playing inspired football all the way up until the fourth quarter. The score was 17-10 going into the fourth, and TCU was contemplating making a switch at quarterback. But as soon as the 15:00 mark hit signifying the fourth quarter, all momentum was shifted. Their inability to tackle doomed the Mustangs, and it was only a matter of time before it started to show on the scoreboard. Ja'Juan Story, B.J. Catalon and Ty Slanina all made SMU defenders look weak and undisciplined and after the flood gates opened, there was no stopping it. To be fair, the SMU offense didn't do much to give their defense a break. But when it comes down to it, Tom Mason's boys tanked.

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