1st Up: Offensive Line
Last week against East Carolina, Matt Davis was getting hit almost every time he dropped back. Thursday night, he actually had time in the pocket to make reads. He even started to look comfortable back there. On one particular play in the first half he side stepped in the pocket and used a stutter step to fake out a pass rusher before running for three yards. And he did it all inside the pocket. At the end of the night, Davis was sacked five times. That’s a huge improvement from last week and good sign for the rest of the season.
2nd Up: Third down
One of SMU's bright spots on the offensive side of the ball was its efficiency on third down…at least in the first half. The Mustangs were converting 70 percent of their third downs in the first half. Their efficiency on third down was a major reason they led Houston 21-14 before fumbling on back to back possession.
3rd Up: Defensive line
SMU hasn’t been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, resulting in its secondary getting burnt frequently. Thursday Justin Lawler took it upon himself to change that and recorded a career-high two sacks while the team posted a season-high three sacks. The secondary still got burned, just not as often as games past.
1st Down: Turnovers
SMU had three turnovers in the first half—two by Braeden West and one by Matt Davis. Two of those fumbles resulted in 14 points for Houston. Despite winning the time of possession battle, out gaining Houston and converting more third downs, SMU found itself trailing by seven heading into the second half. Naturally, SMU struggled in the second half once again—failing to put up any points in the final half.
2nd Down: Blown Call
At the end of the first half, after Braeden West fumbled for a second time, Houston was driving the ball down the field. At the end of their third play, Houston’s left tackle Zach Johnson went down with an injury. Houston had one time out. That time out was not charged. There was no 10 second run off. The clock stopped, and Houston got to keep their timeout. Maybe Houston still scored, but who knows. Having that last timeout made it a lot less stressful.
3rd Down: Second Half
What is it about the second half that SMU seems to hate so much? We can talk all we want about their potential, or their failures, but when you really boil it all down, SMU is a one half team. Inexperience has a lot to do with that, but the difference shouldn’t be this drastic. It most certainly isn’t everyone, but it seems as though enough players get discouraged and lose that fire in the second half. Turn overs, undoubtedly killed any momentum SMU had and with it, the Mustangs confidence.