SMU defenders broke up 6 passes, including 3 interceptions of Liberty quarterback Stephon Masha and 1 of Stephen Calvert. Jordan Wyatt had two of the interceptions and returned the second one 34 yards for a touchdown to seal the win. Horace Richardson and Rodney Clemons also recorded interceptions. Defensive linemen Demerick Gary and Zelt Minor each had a pass deflection. The four interceptions were the most in a game for SMU since 2012 against Houston.
Receivers not named Sutton or Proche
Even though quarterback Ben Hicks struggled again, SMU had more involvement from receivers other than Courtland Sutton and James Proche. Sutton still led SMU in yards and Proche tied for the team lead with 6 catches, but Xavier Castille caught 6 balls, tight end Jeremiah Gaines grabbed his first two receptions of the season and Myron Gailliard had a reception. On the other side, Kevin Thomas is still without a reception this season.
With Xavier Jones out, SMU needed to rely on West. He turned a career-high 24 carries into 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. He became SMU's first 200-yard rusher since Zach Line in 2010 and posted the fifth-highest single-game performance in school history. Ke'Mon Freeman carried the ball 14 times and Jordan Carmouche burned his redshirt, but SMU looks like it will keep West as its primary back as long as Jones is out.
Red zone efficiency
This has been a common theme in Ben Hicks' two starts: In 10 trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line in the last two games, SMU has thrown 4 interceptions, kicked 5 field goals and missed a field goal. All the touchdowns came from outside the red zone or on defense. The Mustangs can't continue to settle for field goals in the red zone if they want to win many more games.
Even with turnover issues keeping the game closer than it should have been, SMU had a couple drops on both sides of the ball that could have created a bigger lead early. Ben Hicks hit Courtland Sutton right in the hands on a deep post, but he dropped it. It would likely have been a touchdown. Jordan Wyatt's pass breakup on fourth down hit him in the hands and would have easily been returned for a touchdown if he caught it.
He's still inexperienced, but Hicks continues to struggle. There's no way around it. He's pressing in the red zone, rushing through reads and struggling with touch and accuracy. He's missed open receivers with under throws that lead to interceptions or throws that are too high or low that become incompletions. SMU's defense and running game were enough to overcome his struggles, but he needs to improve and cut down his turnovers for SMU's progress to actually show up on the scoreboard.