1. Defense Stepping UpThere were many times in this game when SMU’s special teams unit or offense put the defense in a bad spot. However, they stepped up tonight to hold UNT to just two field goals off of those costly turnovers. Throughout the game, SMU got pressure on Andrew McNulty and forced him into a couple bad decisions late including two interceptions in the second half. Justin Lawler had a good game for the Mustangs with a sack, as well as, a tackle for loss. SMU’s rush defense, aside from a couple missed tackles on UNT’s one touchdown run, also stepped up to hold them to 112 yards rushing on 33 attempts. The pass defense was just as good holding McNulty to 128 yards passing on the night and the two interceptions.
It was a bit of a struggle for Matt Davis in the first half but he really stepped it up in the second half. Davis finished the night with 171 yards passing and another 125 yards on the ground including two scores to put it away late. The leadership Davis showed throughout the game was impressive as well, including bouncing back from a mistake of his own in the second quarter. Davis will need to avoid turning it over in those situations in the future but overall this was an impressive game for SMU’s leader.
2. Matt Davis
Jones got nothing going in the first half but really turned it on in the second half. In the fourth quarter, when SMU needed to put this game away he was tough to stop against a defense that looked to be getting a little tired. On the night, Jones finished with 94 yards on the ground on just 13 carries, many of these yards came late in the game. He also chipped in two catches for 15 yards.
3. Xavier Jones
1. Turnovers & Special TeamsSMU was lucky to be up at half time considering all the mistakes they made in the first half. They can thank their defense for holding UNT to just field goals but twice they turned the ball over deep in their own territory, and the others killed drives deep on the other end of the field in scoring opportunities. It was a sloppy first half for the Mustangs that allowed this game to stay close, they may not be so lucky if they make these kinds of mistakes next week.
For the second game in a row, SMU did not get a lot out of their receivers other than good performances from Ryheem Malone and Courtland Sutton. Other than those two, SMU only had one catch from Xavier Castille, Shelby Walker and Jeremiah Gaines, although his was for a touchdown. SMU needs to have a couple of other players step up in the passing game, and also need Courtland Sutton to sustain his great play throughout the game.
2.Receiver Supporting Cast
SMU struggled a bit tonight putting away drives. Other than the final touchdown run for Davis. SMU was just three for five inside the red zone including not punching it in despite four chances from inside the five-yard line, and the turnover by Davis. This is an area SMU can easily fix, possibly by looking to guys like Jeremiah Gaines or Courtland Sutton in the red zone.
3. Red Zone Offense