This season the SMU Mustangs have been a football program on a mission. A mission to return to a bowl game.
Last season was a disaster for the Mustangs. The Mustangs lost their head coach, lost alumni support, and lost 11 games. Things had to change – fast.
The first thing the Mustangs did following that disastrous 2014 season, was reach out to Texas high school coaching legend, Chad Morris, to see if he wanted the job that nobody in their right mind would take. Morris took the job so he could return to his home state and be the head coach of a college football team.
During week one, the Mustangs put up a noble fight against top-ranked Baylor, before finally falling 56-21 to the Bears in front of a friendly home crowd. The second week of the season was also played in front of a home crowd but SMU was able to knock off North Texas 31-13, avenging the loss that forced their coach to resign last season.
Even with the one loss to Baylor, the Mustangs looked like a much better team compared to last season’s squad. The real test came on Saturday when the Mustangs hit the road to face top-ranked TCU. SMU did not disappoint in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. Even though TCU pulled away late to seal a 56-37 win, SMU stayed in the game and fought throughout.
Morris and his young Mustangs gave Gary Patterson and his experienced Horned Frog team a fit from the start. The headaches continued until late in the fourth quarter when TCU pulled away. The game TCU was expected to run away with, was actually much closer than expected.
The Mustangs looked like they fell out of reach in the third quarter, until their offense found a second breath and rattled of 20 straight points to cut the TCU lead to only five points early in the fourth quarter. That’s about the time TCU stepped up on both sides of the ball to put the game away, like a top five team should.
Quarterback Matt Davis was once again the star of the SMU offense with 330 yards and one touchdown, while completing 17 of the 31 passes he attempted. Davis also had 62 yards and two touchdowns, while carrying the ball a team-high, 17 times.
Davis is proving to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country while playing for a program many had written off before the season even started. Through three games Davis has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 667 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions, and sacked eight times. He has also carried the ball 58 times for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
Receiver Courtland Sutton also had another solid game against stiff competition with four receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown. Ryheem Malone stepped up with three receptions for 90 yards of his own.
The SMU running game was effective at times against TCU using somebody other than Davis on the ground. Braeden West carried the ball 13 times for a team high 64 yards, while Xavier Jones chipped in 36 yards and one touchdown off the 12 touches he had.
Once again the problems with the SMU team was on the defense.
The TCU offense ran up a total of 720 yards and eight touchdowns. It’s almost impossible for any team to win against an offense that churns out that many points and yards.
This SMU defense is a group of hardworking guys that give it their all. Unfortunately, they just don’t have the depth it takes to hang with the bigger programs late in games. With the high school background that Morris has in the state of Texas, he should be able to fix that problem in the next couple of seasons with better recruiting.
This week SMU will have a chance to rebound from a tough loss when they face James Madison at home. This is a very important game on the schedule since conference play begins on October 3 when East Carolina makes their way Dallas.
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