Johnson had a good fall camp but had struggled in coverage for much of the season. He had his best game of the season today, breaking up two passes and delivering two more timely hits that jarred a catch loose for an incompletion. He helped hold the AAC's leading receiver, Keyarris Garrett, to four catches for 26 yards. He also had a couple open-field tackles in run support. His two pass breakups came in 1-on-1 situations, one on a slant and one on a go route in the end zone. He was on the receiver's hip on both.
Courtland Sutton Involved Early
SMU came out and ran the ball aggresively on its first drive, which constrained Tulsa and made them allocate more defenders toward the middle of the field. Sutton saw some 1-on-1 chances early and took advantage. SMU also lined him up on both sides of the field to keep Tulsa's defense off-balance. After a couple catches early on, Sutton and Davis' confidence rose and they connected on some downfield shots in the second half, including ridicolous catches of 44 and 18 yards, the second one a touchdown. SMU's offense is much scarier and can constrain a defense into certain formations when it has its best player making plays.
SMU averaged a healthy 28 yards per kick return and ripped off four kick returns of 28 or more yards. Its worst starting field position after a Tulsa score was its own 28-yard line. Kickoff coverage has been a marked improvement from last season and SMU continues to improve. Braeden West adds an elusive home-run threat to the return game.
Even though Davis and Sutton appeard to find their chemistry, SMU couldn't throw the ball consistenly. Davis threw three touchdowns but only completed 19 of 39 passes for 236 yards. He also threw a pick-six in which he started down his receiver and allowed the corner to jump in front of the route, a simple 10-yard buttonhook. Tulsa adjusted after SMU's early sucess and played tighter coverage the rest of the way. Outside of SMU's receivers struggled to get separation and could not find a consistent second option next to Sutton.
This one shoud be ovbious. SMU has botched three punts in its last two games, and Deion Sanders' Jr.'s muff today couldn't have come at a worse time. SMU trailed by two at halftime and had forced Tulsa to punt from inside its 20 on the first drive of the second half. Sanders' muff gave Tulsa a first down inside SMU's 30, and it scored a touchdown nine plays later. Sanders also allowed a punt to go over his head in the first quarter and gave it an extra 10 yards on a bounce.
Sticking to the Run Game
Chad Morris' offense is run-based, but SMU hasn't been able to run the ball consistently of late. Against Tulsa and also USF, SMU had an early scoring drive when it established the run. But the defense adjusted each time and took away the run for the rest of the game. Chad Morris said he was disappointed in his running game. When an defense loads the box, SMU has to play mistake-free when throwing the ball. It hasn't been able to so far this year, whether it's been drops, inaccurate passes or sacks. The Mustangs managed 84 yards on 32 carries against Tulsa.