How it Happened
James Madison ran the ball down SMU’s throat all game and played bend-but-don’t-break defense. SMU gave the Dukes a fight, scoring 14 straight points to turn a 41-31 deficit into a 45-31 lead. JMU quarterback Vad Lee rushed for 276 yards and also mixed in a few constraint play deep passes that kept the Mustangs’ defense guessing and prevented them from stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run. SMU allowed 729 total yards and 8.5 yards per play, which just won’t win games.
What it Means
This loss is oddly timed after SMU hung with TCU a week ago. But the defensive issues present against Baylor and TCU surfaced again. SMU struggled with JMU’s fast-paced offense and its running game. SMU couldn’t catch up to JMU’s run plays that stretched the field sideways, and were out-muscled on power runs. TCU and Baylor did the same. The secondary struggled in coverage, although James Madison didn’t stretch the field with a vertical passing game like TCU and Baylor did.
Player of the Game
Vad Lee:Lee wasn’t flawless – far from it actually. But he was still the biggest difference-maker in the game. He totaled 569 yards on an impressive XX yards per carry. He read the field well on run plays, especially on zone-read runs when he had to choose from handoff and quarterback keeper. But, he shouldn’t get all the credit. He did throw three interceptions and made lots of inaccurate throws downfield, but his big plays squashed any momentum that SMU had built. His game-winning touchdown pass to John Miller sealed it.
SMU starts conference play when it hosts East Carolina at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3.