I'll be honest. This was not a very entertaining game. Between the 7-8 penalties that Mike Matthews and No. 75 for SMU received by themselves, all of the video reviews, and the very uninspired play of the second unit offense, this was the first game since the Texas St. hurricane game that I was counting down the clock ready to leave.
With the early scores and salting away this game midway through the second quarter after coming off the emotional high from the Alabama game, we knew there would be a hangover.
Here are ten things I found out from yesterday's game:
1) An argument can be made that Tra Carson is slowly becoming the best RB coming off the bench. Trey Williams can't stay healthy, turning his ankle again on his first kick return. Brandon Williams doesn't want to wait on his blocks. Carson has made a 100% improvement in his running and pad level.
2) Nate Askew isn't the most instinctive player, but I will give him credit for playing with a lot more energy and explosion this week. He made a couple of nice plays in coverage and he was getting a lot of pressure on the QB although he missed Gilbert a few times. His performance wasn't great by any stretch, but his energy on Saturday has me hopeful that he's turning a corner.
3) It is uncharacteristic that a Matthews boy would not have his head on straight for a game, but something was distracting Mike on Saturday. He had several snap infractions, a holding penalty, and the 4th down play in the red zone where his snap popped up and hit Nehemiah Hicks. I saw Sumlin talking o him on the sideline and Mike looked upset and out of sorts. We take the Matthews boys for granted because they've been so good and so reliable, and thus we've ignored that Mike is only a true sophomore starting his fourth game. I don;t expect this to happen again.
4) The FG/XP stuff is bizarre given how well coached the other special teams units are. Yeah, there's the re-occurrence of Taylor Bertolet's mental lapses and that is concerning, but that wasn't the only problem. There seems to be a timing issue between Jake Matthews and Drew Kaser as well. On a couple of snaps, it appeared that Kaser was surprised and not ready and he had some bobbles with the hold. This isn't just a Bertolet problem from what I observed. I need to see the replay to re-evaluate. But changing kickers has made this an issue.
5) This was probably the sloppiest game I've seen a Kevin Sumlin Aggie team play. A lot of that has to do with the hangover effect, but the team must get that corrected because these things can turn into bad habits if not nipped in the bud immediately. Again, I'll give the team a pass this time given the circumstances of the early big lead and it being the week after Alabama.
6) I mentioned Askew,but I thought the pass rush was much better, although still not where it should be. Snyder blitzed a lot and forced Gilbert to move and throw under pressure. The key now is to apply that pressure AND finish the play. Tyrone Taylor wrapped up Gilbert from the backside on a big 3rd and 15 play, and Gilbert still got the ball off and got the first down. Taylor has to learn to pop the QB and sweep with his arm to strip the ball versus wrapping around his waist and trying to pull him down. The pressure was there...need to learn to finish it.
7) I thought both Mat Joeckel and Kenny Hill were flat and not very good in extended time in the second half. After Hill's encouraging performance against Sam Houston, his play Saturday left me wondering what happened. He came into the game fresh and the SMU defense was gassed. They wee ripe for the picking, yet he completed 1-of-5 passes for 9 yards.
8) Part of the issue with the second team late in the game was the lackluster play of the second unit OL. With Shep Klinke sidelined, the second unit consists of two walk-ons. It's scary to think that this program has eight healthy offensive linemen with the brunt of the SEC schedule still ahead.
9) I thought the lineup changes on defense worked out well. Now, in fairness to the lineup last week, SMU is a completely different animal from Alabama but I thought Deshazor EVerett made some good plays at safety. He certainly enhanced the safety play. I also thought Tremaine Jacobs did a nice job at corner with only a couple of hiccups in coverage, but that's to be expected against any team that throws the ball 62 times. He made a great tackle coming off a block that resulted in a TFL. A miss there and the receiver gets 10+ yards if not more. I thought Darian Claiborne had a solid game and was around the ball. I wouldn't say he had a great game though.
10) I was a little disppointed we didn't see more of the young guys up-front like Isaiah Golden before trash time in the fourth quarter. Golden has incredible potential and upside, and I think getting him as many snaps as possible will pay dividends against a team like LSU in November. I think Alonzo Williams had a solid game wth three pass breakups and a few QB hurries. He had a sack erased on a face mask penalty as well.
Hop's Game Thoughts - SMU
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