3 Up, 3 Down

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

Up

1. Offensive line play was greatly improved today. Chauncey Briggs made his first start of the season and made a huge impact on the line's play. Garrett Gilbert was only sacked once, which was a huge improvement over the previous five games of the season. Gilbert had plenty of time to sit in the pocket and find his receivers. The line also did a good job with opening up running lanes for Traylon Shead and Gilbert when the offense needed to run. Overall, it was very encouraging for SMU to see their offensive line finally play like an FBS unit.

2. Garrett Gilbert's play was once again efficient and effective. He completed 27 of 43 attempts for 321 yards and two touchdowns. He also set up both of Shead's touchdown runs with passes that placed the ball on the 1-yard line. Gilbert also ran nine times for 49 yards. He was patient in the pocket and waited for his receivers to get open. His only mistake, an interception in the fourth quarter, was forgotten by the final whistle.

3. Up: The SMU defense played its best game of the season today. Despite the 29 points that Memphis put on the board, the SMU defense only allowed sixteen of them on a touchdown that came after a Gilbert interception, another touchdown in garbage time and a 52-yard prayer of a field goal. Memphis only gained 311 yards and did not make into the red zone until the third quarter. The defense also forced two turnovers, including a Beau Barnes interception late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for the Mustangs.

Down

1. Special teams play in general was horrendous. Deion Sanders Jr. is not the answer at kick returner and JaBaryce Taylor fumbled on a punt return. But punt protection was abysmal against Memphis for the Mustangs. The Mustangs allowed one blocked punt early in the game and nearly allowed another one on the doorstep to their own end zone. Both times the Tiger players came through nearly untouched. Had SMU not dominated on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the special teams could have made a big difference for the Mustangs today. Fortunately for the punt team, they got a mulligan this weekend and now need to examine the film and learn from this week's mistakes.

2. SMU could not hold onto the ball in the second half against Memphis. Two fumbles -one by Shead on a run and another by Taylor on a punt return- were picked up by Memphis and returned for touchdowns. Gilbert's interception in the fourth quarter was returned deep into SMU territory and resulted in another Memphis touchdown. Had these mishaps come against a better opponent, they would have been more than enough to sink SMU's win.

3. June Jones again made a series of head-scratching decisions during this game. At times it felt like he was trying to get Memphis back into the game. A good example of this was after SMU recovered an onside kick leading by 11 with 5:21 left in the game. Everyone in the stadium expected three straight runs from the SMU offense to either burn the clock or Memphis's last two timeouts. But after one Shead run, Jones called for two straight passes, both of which fell incomplete and stopped the clock. In a two-possession game, this was a dangerous choice for Jones and gave Memphis unnecessary life.

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