1. Jeremy Johnson
Johnson had an incredible game for the Mustangs. He finished with 18 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. His first score came on a 21-yard pass in the second quarter, and the other was a 9-yarder in the third. But his biggest play came after he scored on the Mustangs' final drive and made an incredible catch in the back of the end zone for a 2-point conversion to tie the game at the end of regulation. When QB Garrett Gilbert targeted him, Johnson did a terrific job finding holes in a Rutgers secondary that was tired and out of place. He is a difficult cover in the slot and really stepped up for the Mustangs today when it mattered most.
2. Garrett Gilbert
Gilbert avoided forcing throws and making mistakes vs. Rutgers, which resulted in him going 45-of-70 for 484 yards and five touchdowns. Considering his offensive line play, Gilbert did a wonderful job escaping pressure in the pocket. He ran for just 14 yards but scored two times. SMU as team did a good job protecting the ball on offense besides a botched snap in the first quarter that resulted in a Rutgers touchdown. The offense ran a lot of quick, short passes and Gilbert found his favorite target, Jeremy Johnson, over and over again. The play Gilbert made on the two-point conversion at the end of regulation was incredible as he was forced to throw across his body to the other side of the end zone. Gilbert also hooked up with Keenan Holman for a 55-yard touchdown that was the longest of Holman's career.
The Mustangs managed to avoid penalties for the most part today. The offensive line had a couple holding calls, but the team finished with just five total penalties for 50 yards. The defense was especially impressive avoiding any mistakes and making Rutgers earn all their yards. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights had nine total penalties called on them for 90 total yards. Their big penalty came on a kickoff where SMU lost a fumble, but the Scarlet Knights were offside and were forced to re-kick the ball.
1. Offensive Line
The Mustangs offensive line was abysmal in this game. Gilbert was constantly under pressure and forced into rolling out and making quick throws to his receivers. He ended up getting sacked a total of four times in the game and never really seemed comfortable dropping back. The offensive line was also called for multiple penalties that killed a couple of the Mustangs offensive drives. This lack of discipline hurt all aspects of the offense. The running game suffered as Shead struggled to find holes in the defense due to the poor blocking. He managed to gain 69 yards on 15 carries but never broke a big run.
2. Third Downs
The Scarlet Knights had no problem converting on third down vs. the Mustangs all day. For the game, they were 9-of-18 on third down, including a touchdown on third-and-24 in the second overtime. The Mustangs, meanwhile, were an 9-for-23 on third down. This was due to a combination of penalties, sacks and mental mistakes. The Mustangs ran a lot of quick plays in this game hoping to face more manageable third downs, but the lack of blocking didn't allow them to take advantage of that game plan.
3. Special Teams
The Mustangs special teams unit had done a good job all season up until today. Mike Loftus had two punts in the first quarter travel less than 30 yards and go out of bounds in SMU territory. This led to Rutgers having a huge advantage in field position all day. The Mustangs, averaging 12 yards per kick return, also struggled returning the ball beyond the 20-yard line today. Deion Sanders Jr. fumbled one kick return, but the play was called back due to a Scarlet Knight offside penalty. In the fourth quarter, Chase Hover also missed an extra point that could have put SMU down 14. Also, the team was unable to recover a bobbled onside kick when they were down eight with less than four minutes left in regulation.
3 Up, 3 Down
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