Despite a collapsing offensive line, a tired defense and a ten-point deficit, SMU did not give up. Ben Hicks bounced back from his two early interceptions to lead two crucial fourth quarter drives. He made a couple of incredible throws scrambling out of the pocket on third and long to extend drives. The defense overcame some late struggles, coming up with a big fourth down stop and picking off Glen Cuiellette on Tulane’s final drive.
2. James Proche
On a day where Courtland Sutton was quiet, Proche picked up his slack and made some monster catches. Proche burned Tulane on the first drive of the game for a 54- yard deep ball and an eight-yard touchdown catch. He also got behind the defense on 3rd and 17 to pick up a vital first down. SMU had success bringing Proche across the formation for sweeps. Proche finished the game with a monster stat-line of six catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Run Offense
SMU’s offensive line was able to spring Braeden West for a few long runs. They did a good job on Tulane’s star defensive tackle Tanzel Smart, as he was a non-factor for much of the game. While Ke’Mon Freeman did not have much success, West finished with 119 yard on 22 carries and two touchdowns.
1. Pass protection
While SMU’s offensive line did a good job on running plays, they did not have success protecting Ben Hicks. After not giving up a sack in each of the last two games, they surrendered four to Tulane. Defensive end Ade Aruna dominated the line, sacking Hicks twice and racking up eight tackles. The line also committed a few poorly timed penalties; the worst of which – a 15-yard tripping call on Chauncey Briggs – Hicks was able to overcome with a deep ball to Xavier Castille.
2. Punting & kicking
Punter Jamie Sackville and kicker Josh Williams both struggled tonight. Sackville averaged 37.2 yards per punt, which would be even lower if it were not for a 69-yarder that was aided by a friendly bounce. At one point, he punted back-to-back balls that went 25 and 24 yards. Williams missed his only field goal attempt of the game, a 31-yarder.
The secondary, which has been one of SMU’s greatest strengths this season, did not play well. Cuiellette, who is not much of a pocket passer, picked apart the secondary in the third quarter, finding wide receiver Terren Encalade in the end zone twice. SMU also did not force a turnover until Darrion Millines intercepted Cuiellette’s hail mary on the last play of the game.