SMU had struggled when faced with adversity or after its own mistakes, but it didn't fold after giving up two early touchdowns, a Matt Davis fumble or after punting with 9:17 to go and down 14 points. Despite the 1-8 record and some lopsided losses, Chad Morris has insisted his team has played hard. Today, it was a little more obvious.
Getting the Run Going
Chad Morris stuck to the run against a stout Temple defense SMU rushed 21 times for 117 yards in the first half and didn't fold or panic when the Owls took an early 14-0 lead. SMU finished with 38 rushes for 185 yards and 397 total yards of offense, but sticking to the run game helped open things up in the passing game. The offensive line held its own in the run game and sealed off the edge on both of Jones' TD runs. They got to the second level more frequently as well.
Balance in the passing game
SMU had six receivers with multiple catches and none with more than four or more than 50 yards receiving. Four receivers had catches for at least 20 yards. A young receiving corps has not found a consistent, game-to-game second option to Sutton, but spreading the ball around mitigates it. Jeremiah Gaines had one of his better games, beating potential AAC Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Matakevich for a 30-yard touchdown.
While SMU's defense had eight tackles for loss, it still was caught out of position fooled on a few plays tonight. On Ventell Bryant's 75-yd TD, David Johnson was playing in press coverage and actually gave Bryant a little trouble at the line, but he peeked in the backfield and was fooled by a fake handoff. He stepped up to defend it instead of staying with Bryant. Darrion Richardson did the same thing behind him, and the result was a wide-open Bryant. SMU was also caught on Walkers' 36-yard touchdown. Walker rank the play action bootleg and SMU bit too hard on the fake, giving him a lot of room on the far sideline to scramble for the score. The defense is making strides, but it's still getting fooled, getting caught out of position or failing to maintain gaps a litlte too much.Anderson behind them, bootleg
The one big mistake
SMU had made a crucial mistake (usually a turnover) that sucked the momentum out of its offense. Against Baylor, it was the botched goal line situation right before halftime. At Houston, it was three first-half fumbles. Today, it was Davis' fumble. While SMU responded to it instead of folding, it's still a mistake that can flip a game around for good, and one that SMU needs to eliminate if it wants to stay in games for 60 minutes and have a better chance at a win.
Getting beat deep
This isn't anything new, but SMU gave up a lot of big plays down the field in the passing game. Temple receiver Robby Anderson got free a few times and averaged 20 yards per catch, including a 46-yarder in the third quarter that set up a Jahad Thomas touchdown. He could have had another big play if he had held onto the ball on a catch taht would have put Temple inside SMU's 10-yard line. P.J. Walker averaged 10.7 yards per pass, the fifth QB to average at least 10 yards per pass against SMU this season.