Matt Visinsky

Pony Stampede Gameday Central: SMU at East Carolina

Come inside Pony Stampede's Gameday Central with the latest coverage of SMU's road contest at East Carolina on Saturday at 11 a.m.

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WHEN: Saturday Nov. 12, 2016 at 11 a.m. CT 
WHERE: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, N.C. 
TV: ESPNews 
SERIES: East Carolina leads 4-2
LAST MEETING: ECU won 49-23 on Oct. 3, 2015

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First quarter thoughts- SMU 10, ECU 7

  • The right side of SMU's line gave up pressure on third down on the first drive. Hicks tried to escape, but Jerry Saena couldn't hold a block long enough and it resulted in a sack.
  • SMU was in trap zone coverage on the 39-yard catch by Zay Jones. That requires Rodney Clemons to make a long run to try to pick off the pass that he traps the QB into throwing because he starts so far away. He couldn't get there in time though.
  • No one stayed outside to contain on Philip Nelson's TD run on the read-option. ECU used an unbalanced line and motioned a tight end across the formation to block, but he didn't even have anyone to block.
  • How about a roughing the passer on a wide receiver pass!
  • Not really a surprise, but SMU is pulling out a heavy dose of inside zones, tosses, misdirections and unbalanced lines in the run game. 
  • Hicks was very lucky he didn't get picked off on second and goal when Bobby Fulp broke on a quick slant intended for Xavier Castille. Castille needs to run a crisper route with a quicker break. He gave away his route and plan too easily.
  • Pick plays are great when a defense is in man coverage and the defensive backs are lined up on the same level. That's frequently how they line up on the goal line. But ECU's defense was a well-disguised zone and picked up the rub play SMU ran on third-and-goal easily. It held SMU to a field goal.
  • Tunnel screens are designed to make defensive backs run a long way to make a tackle in space. That's what Kevin Johnson did. The slot corner was blocked immediately, Johnson recognized that meant screen, went around the block, made the tackle for a minimal gain and forced a fumble that Justin Lawler recovered.
  • ECU corner Bobby Fulp is all over the field. He recognized SMU trying to set up a screen for Braeden West on second-and-goal when he saw two offensive linemen leak out to be blockers. He shot between both and broke up the play.
  • Nice accurate ball from Hicks on the touchdown pass to Sutton, delivering it high above the underneath defenders. That's a throw he didn't make against Baylor.
  • Great burst and hand use from Demerick Gary on a tackle for no gain.

Second quarter thoughts- SMU 38, ECU 24

  • ECU's second scoring drive was not Darrion Millines' finest play against the run. Took some bad angles and didn't keep leverage.
  • Mitch Kaufman blocked up a linebacker and Saena pulled around to block a defensive end to create a huge hole for Ke'Mon Freeman, who ran 39 yards for a TD. It was also helped by poor gap alignment by ECU.
  • I don't know why SMU keeps doing these short kicks. It's giving ECU free field position every time.
  • SMU was in zone coverage and no one picked up Zay Jones after he made a double-move in the flat, leaving him wide open on second-and-goal. Philip Nelson overthrew him though.
  • It's been pretty easy pitch-and-catch for Courtland Sutton and Ben Hicks with ECU playing so much off coverage and outside technique. SMU has used a lot of run-pass options and play actions to get Sutton targets.
  • Jerry Saena has made some nice blocks on the perimeter and in space this quarter. Just made one on Freeman’s 32-yard screen catch and run.
  • Hicks has to deliver the second-and-goal throw to Sutton on his outside shoulder on that fade route.
  • Three ECU defenders were standing together in a clump at the first down marker on Proche's touchdown catch. None was in the flat to take Proche on a shallow cross.
  • Zay Jones gets most of his catches on shorter throws. That's really the only way to get as many catches as he does and to take advantage of his best attribute: quickness. ECU has targeted him mostly on throws down the field.
  • Horace Richardson sniffed out a screen immediately for slot receiver Quay Johnson, picked off the pass and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown. SMU only had two defensive backs on that side of the field (against three ECU receivers) when it shifted to bring pressure. The outside receiver had to get a cutblock on Richardson, but he couldn't. 
  • Impressive strength from Jackson Mitchell to rip the ball out from James Summers to force a fumble.
  • Darrion Millines made a great play at the catch point to get his interception, bumping the receiver off his route right as the ball got there.
  • ECU corner Corey Seargent had great position on Sutton's second touchdown catch and had his arm outstretched in position to pull it away, but Sutton grabbed it for the score.
  • SMU needs to do something to stop the wildcat package with Summers. Lots of bad reads and overrunning plays by defenders.
  • Jones ran the same stop-spin double move in the flat on his touchdown that he ran on the overthrow from Nelson in the end zone. Without getting flagged for interference, he showed off some physicality in denying Rodney Clemons a chance to get up to make a play on the ball.

Third quarter thoughts- SMU 48, ECU 24

  • Gardner Minshew had Jones open for a first down on an out route Richardson's second interception return touchdown. Richardson was sitting at the marker inside, and Minshew threw a bit wide of Jones, causing it to get deflected into Richardson's hands.
  • ECU's injuries at DB are showing up. No one is able to cover Sutton at all after Fulp made a few plays on him in the first half.
  • Josh Williams is now 3-for-7 from 30-plus yards after his 32-yard make.
  • The special teams tape by both teams needs to be thrown in the trash. So many stupid plays and penalties.
  • Freeman has shown more patience and decisiveness in making his cuts. The staff has wanted him to get better in that area.
  • SMU is still coming out with some power and misdirection in the run. On West's 28-yard run, SMU faked the fly sweep, pulled a guard to set the edge and used a tight end at a lead blocker.

SMU-ECU links

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