Early secondary discipline
SMU's secondary helped keep the game close early. The defensive backs played disciplined, didn't hesitate or make wrong reads early on. They didn't bite on a double-reverse pass, forcing Hill to hold the ball and take a sack for a 16-yard loss. TCU didn't convert a third down until the third quarter, but it converted three straight third downs with at least 8 yards to gain on one drive. When TCU spread SMU's defense out, it used its speed and found some room. In the second half, fatigue set in as a result of the offense's inability to sustain drives.
This seems strange considering SMU's tough second half and Johnson's missed tackle on John Diarse's 75-yard touchdown. But Johnson finished with a team-high 10 tackles (1 for a loss) when he helped replace the ejected Darrion Millines. He made some nice tackles in the open field, including recovering from an initial bad angle to trip up TCU running back Kyle Hicks for a minimal gain.
The redshirt sophomore was one of SMU's only consistent players for 60 minutes. He caught 5 passes for 113 yards and also drew a pass interference penalty. He proved to be a tough cover for even for Gary Patterson's defense.
The story of the game for SMU. Chad Morris called a conservative game and avoided risks. SMU punted on fourth-and-three from TCU's 36-yard line in the second quarter. SMU started a drive with 2:24 left in the first half after a TCU field goal, and Morris wanted to let SMU take it into the half. But the Mustangs went three-and-out and allowed TCU the chance to try a Hail Mary. In the third quarter on a drive following a TCU touchdown, SMU tried a 46-yard field goal with Josh Williams on fourth-and-two from TCU's 29 and missed. TCU scored 20 straight points afterward.
TCU's defensive front overwhelmed SMU's line for most of the game and starting left tackle Nick Natour left in the second quarter with an injury. SMU averaged 2.23 yards on 34 carries and allowed 4 sacks, although Ben Hicks appeared to hold onto the ball for too long on a couple of them. Mustang running backs' longest carry went for 10 yards. Hicks 15-yard scramble on third-and-10 was SMU's longest rush of the game.
SMU surrendered punt returns of 31, 14 and 29 yards in the first half, the result of low hang time kicks and poor coverage. SMU continued to struggle on kick returns, averaging 16 yards per return on 5 tries. Including Williams' miss, SMU had another tough night on special teams overall. Despite some returns, Jamie Sackville had his best game kicking for distance. He averaged 42.5 yards on eight punts, 6 yards longer than his average through three games. He kicked a 56-yarder than pinned TCU at its 3-yard line.