3 Up, 3 Down

We share three positives from SMU's win over USF and three negative!

Up

1. Carry the Load: After Garrett Gilbert went down with a left leg injury in the second quarter, K.C. Nlemchi came through with a big performance for SMU. Nlemchi had a number of big carries in the first two drives to take pressure off Gilbert's replacement, redshirt freshman Neal Burcham. On that first second half drive, Nlemchi was the workhorse who got SMU down to the USF 6. When Nlemchi's helmet fell off, he had to go to the sidelines as Prescott Line finished the drive with the 6-yard touchdown run. Both runners were big in helping the SMU offense keep going after Gilbert went down.

2. Shut It Down: Anytime you shutout an offense on their senior night, your defense is reaching its peak. The SMU defense came through with its best performance of the season against the miserable USF offense. Jay Scott had two big interceptions to seal the win after Kenneth Acker played terrific pass defense all night. Stephon Sanders also came up big in the run game and also notched a big sack to put a USF drive on hold. The SMU defense held strong at the end of the game as USF threatened at first and goal from the SMU four, but the Mustangs forced four straight incompletions to preserve the shutout before the SMU special teams blew their punt coverage and gave up a touchdown (SMU still stopped the two-point conversion attempt).

3. Error Free: As hard as this will be for many Mustang fans to believe, SMU's first penalty was a delay of game penalty that came with 13:33 left in the fourth quarter. This is a huge improvement for a team that couldn't help itself from shooting itself in the foot with flags earlier this season. Today, there were no holds or personal fouls or pass interferences to get in the way of a dominant performance by SMU. This was made even more apparent by USF's many blunders that extended SMU drives or crippled the Bulls offense.

Down

1. Gilbert Down: The injury to Garrett Gilbert in the second quarter was every SMU fans' worst nightmare. With two minutes left in the first half, Gilbert scrambled for a four-yard gain and slid to protect his injured shoulder. However, his left cleat got caught in the turf and his leg crumpled. He walked off the field with the help of two trainers and never returned to the game. He was seen on the sidelines in crutches, and there is no word on his status for next week. Needless to say, this would be a huge blow to SMU's bowl chances if they do not have their starting quarterback against Houston or UCF.

2. Not So Special: The SMU special teams looked like they were going to go an entire game without a major misstep, but they just could not allow that to happen. Instead, they gave up a 50-yard punt return for the only USF points of the games with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter, ending the defense's hopes for a shutout. Chase Hover also strangely missed an extra point attempt after SMU's first touchdown, continuing his late season struggles.

3. Turnovers: In the end it didn't matter because the Bulls couldn't get anything going on offense, but Gilbert and Burcham each threw an interception and Darius Joseph nearly fumbled the ball in USF territory. But SMU will not be able to go into Houston and be as sloppy with the football and expect to win.

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