CFN Take: SMU Beats UConn For First Win

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 6, 2014


SMU Mustangs 2014 ... Head Coach: Tom Mason

2014 SMU Mustangs

2014 Schedule
Record: 1-11

Aug. 31 at Baylor L 45-0
Sep. 6 at North Texas L 43-6
Sep. 13 OPEN DATE
Sep. 20 Texas A&M L 58-6
Sep. 27 TCU L 56-0
Oct. 4 at East Carolina L 45-24
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 Cincinnati L 41-3
Oct. 25 Memphis L 48-10
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 at Tulsa L 38-28
Nov. 15 USF L 14-13
Nov. 22 at UCF L 53-7
Nov. 28 Houston L 35-9
Dec. 6 at Connecticut W 27-20
Dec. 6 SMU 27, at Connecticut 20
And You Care Because … SMU avoided a winless season with 21 unanswered points in the second half with Prescott Line running for scores from four and 12 yards out and Matt Davis taking off for a 26-yard score. The Mustangs started out the scoring with two Cody Rademacher field goals from 44 and 28 yards out, but UConn scored 20 straight points on a 32-yard fumble return for a score from Andrew Adams and touchdown runs from Max DeLorenzo and Ron Johnson, but five turnovers turned out to be a major problem, especially in the second half.
What Else? SMU QB Matt Davis completed 15-of-33 passes for 145 yards and a score, and ran 22 times for 191 yards and a touchdown
- Connecticut QB Chandler Whitmer completed 1-of-3 passes for 38 yards and a pick, and Tim Boyle completed 4-of-11 passes for 28 yards
- SMU WR Darius Joseph caught nine passes for 108 yards
- Turnovers: Connecticut 5 – SMU 3
Game Rating: B-

Nov. 28 Houston 35, at SMU 9
And You Care Because … Greg Ward Jr. ran for three touchdowns from 38, four and five yards out, and Kenneth Farrow ran for third quarter scores from 11 and 14 yards away as Houston ran away for the win. SMU held a 9-7 halftime lead after Jeremiah Gaines caught a 67-yard touchdown pass late in the first half, but it was all Houston the rest of the way with 28 unanswered points.
What Else? Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 17-of-28 passes for 144 yards with a pick, and ran 14 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns
- SMU QB Matt Davis completed 13-of-27 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, and ran 20 times for 70 yards
- Houston RB Kenneth Farrow ran 18 times for 110 yards and two scores
- Total yards: Houston 433 – SMU 223
Game Rating: C

Nov. 22 at UCF 53, SMU 7
And You Care Because … UCF put the game away in the first quarter with a 27-0 lead on two touchdown runs from Dontravious Wilson and two Justin Holman touchdown passes including a 58-yarder to J.J. Worton. SMU got into the end zone in the second quarter on a five-yard Matt Davis run, but that was it for the fun as Michael Easton returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown as part of a run of 26 unanswered points helped by four field goals. SMU turned the ball over five times.
What Else? UCF QB Justin Holman completed 15-of-22 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with two picks
- SMU QB Matt Davis completed 6-of-15 passes for 44 yards with an interception, and ran seven times for a team-high 40 yards
- UCF RB Micah Reed ran 26 times for 112 yards
- First downs: UCF 27 – SMU 4
Game Rating: D-

Nov. 15 South Florida 14, at SMU 13
And You Care Because … Andre Davis caught a four-yard touchdown pass with four seconds to play as USF came back with 14 points in the final eight minutes to get the win. SMU scored 13 points in the second quarter on two Cody Rademacher field goals and a three-yard Justin Lawler touchdown catch, but USF got back in the game with a 12-yard D’Ernest Johnson catch, and closed it out with a 21-play, 75-yard drive in just under six minutes for the win.
What Else? USF QB Mike White completed 9-of-16 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns
- SMU QB Matt Davis completed 22-of-31 passes for 189 yards and a score, and ran 11 times for a team-high 53 yards
- Time of possession: USF 32:26 – SMU 27:34
- Total yards: USF 378 – SMU 257
Game Rating: B

Nov. 8 at Tulsa 38, SMU 28
And You Care Because … Dane Evans threw five touchdown passes including two to Keevan Lucas in the second quarter and two to Keyarris Garrett on the way to a 35-13 third quarter lead. SMU turned it over three times, but the offense got off to a hot start as Der’rikk Thompson started out the scoring with a 64-yard touchdown on the team’s first offensive play. Matt Davis ran for two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull the Mustangs within seven late, but Tulsa put it away with a 24-yard field goal with just over a minute to play.
What Else? Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 16-of-24 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns
- SMU QB Matt Davis completed 21-of-32 passes for 212 yards and a score with two interceptions, and ran 28 times for 181 yards and two scores
- Tulsa WR Keyarris Garrett caught four passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and Keevan Lucas caught four passes for 88 yards and two scores
- Total yards: Tulsa 501 – SMU 464
Game Rating: B

Oct. 25 Memphis 48, at SMU 10
And You Care Because … Memphis scored the first 21 points with one-yard touchdown runs from Jarvis Cooper and Alan Cross and a 54-yard touchdown catch from Phil Mayhue, and after SMU went on a long march ending with a one-yard Prescott Line run, the blowout was on. The Tigers scored 20 straight points with Brandon Hayes tearing off a 36-yard run and Cooper scoring from seven yards out on the way to a 41-7 lead, cruising over the last 20 minutes for the easy win.
What Else? Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 17-of-23 passes for 307 yards and a score
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 13 times for 101 yards and a touchdown, and Jarvis Cooper ran 16 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns
- Total yards: Memphis 582 – SMU 251
- SMU QB Garrett Krstich completed 10-of-22 passes for 59 yards and two picks, Matt Davis completed 3-of-9 passes for 55 yards, and Kolney Cassel missed his only two attempts
Game Rating: D

Oct. 18 Cincinnati 41, at SMU 3
And You Care Because … Helped by four SMU turnovers and several misfires, Cincinnati blew past SMU with five different Bearcats scoring. Gunner Kiel found Johnny Holton for a 23-yard score and Nick Temple took a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown as part of 24-point second quarter. Andrew Gantz hit three field goals for UC, while SMU only managed a 29-yard Cody Rademacher field goal in the first quarter.
What Else? Total yards: Cincinnati 508 – SMU 276
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 131-of-20 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown, and ran six times for 50 yards
- SMU QB Garrett Krstich completed 17-of-31 passes for 172 yards and two interceptions
- Cincinnati threw for 268 yards and ran for 240
Game Rating: D-

Oct. 4 at East Carolina 45, SMU 24
And You Care Because … Shane Carden and Justin Hardy connected three times on touchdown plays from nine, two and 30 yards out in the first half, and Anthony Scott and Chris Hairston ran four touchdowns to keep SMU at arm’s length. The Mustang offense actually worked a little bit, with Darius Joseph catching touchdown passes from seven and nine yards out, and Prescott Line ran for a two-yard score.
What Else? East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 31-of-41 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns, and ran seven times for 47 yards
- SMU QB Garrett Krstich completed 42-of-67 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns with an interception
- East Carolina WR Isaiah Jones caught nine passes for 130 yards and a score, and Justin Hardy caught eight passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns
- SMU WR Darius Joseph caught 13 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 27 TCU 56, at SMU 0
And You Care Because … TCU QB Trevone Boykin threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more, finding Deante Gray for scoring plays of 28 and seven yards out and taking off for a 27-yard score and an eight-yard touchdown. SMU turned it over three times and was outgained 614 yards to 245.
What Else? TCU QB Trevone Boykin completed 23-of-36 passes for 280 yards and four scores, and ran seven times for 62 yards and two touchdowns
- SMU QB Garrett Krstich completed 14-of-30 passes for 142 yards and a pick
- Rushing yards: TCU 265 – SMU 89
- TCU RB B.J. Catalon ran 19 times for 114 yards and a score
Game Rating: D-

Sept. 20 Texas A&M 58, at SMU 6
And You Care Because … For the first time since 2006, Texas A&M is 4-0, courtesy of a blowout of SMU in Dallas. QB Kenny Hill once again ignited the Aggie offense, accounting for 322 total yards and two touchdown passes in just the first half alone. The Mustangs, playing their first game without head coach June Jones, could muster a pair of field goals Cody Rademacher in the second and fourth quarters.
What Else? The Aggies got some valuable reps for backup QB Kyle Allen, who responded by going 8-of-15 for 130 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Early routs are going to benefit A&M in the event that Hill ever misses any time.
- The Mustangs are also beginning life without starting QB Neal Burcham, who’s out for the season. Garrett Krstich and Kolney Cassel were harassed all day, while completing only 14-of-29 throws.
- The Aggie D continue to mature, posting eight sacks in the blowout. Sophomore LB Shaan Washington had two sacks, while five other players made stops behind the line of scrimmage.
- Krstich showed decent mobility in and out of the pocket, which are going to be mandatory when lining up behind the SMU blockers. Sacks removed, he rushed for 52 yards.
Game Rating: C

Sept. 6 at North Texas 43, SMU 6
And You Care Because … North Texas made up for the problems against Texas by scoring the first 43 points of the game helped by five takeaways from the defense including a 31-yard Jarrian Roberts fumble return for a score. Trevor Moore nailed five field goals, and Reggie Pegram, Antoinne Jimmerson and Erick Evans all ran for scores highlighted by Evans’ 53-yard score. SMU didn’t get on the board until the final second on a 33-yard touchdown pass. UNT committed 15 penalties, but it held SMU to convert 1-of-11 third down tries. Game Rating: D

Aug. 30 at Baylor 45, SMU 0
And You Care Because … Baylor was Baylor again right out of the box, scoring 24 points in the first quarter helped by two Bryce Petty touchdown passes and a Shock Linwood touchdown run from four yards out. The scoring didn’t slow down with Petty running for a five-yard score in the second, but he ended up playing just a half after taking a big shot in the back early on. SMU never threatened and was totally dominated.
What Else? Petty’s back injury didn’t seem like anything too serious, but Seth Russell was able step in and keep the offense moving. Both Petty and Russell completed 13-of-23 passes.
- The Baylor defense was swarming and unstoppable, stuffing SMU allowing just 67 yards of total offense finishing with -24 next yards and just 91 yards through the air. Nothing worked on the Mustang offensive front.
- Not everything was perfect for the Bears. Along with Petty’s injury, the Bears committed 12 penalties and turned it over twice.
- Baylor came up with 31 first downs, SMU seven.
Game Rating: D

2014 Preview 

The Run N’ Shoot has an empty chamber.

No one seems to be mentioning—or even noticing—the fact that SMU head coach June Jones has hit a wall on the Hilltop. The Mustangs were a feel-good story back in 2009, but that was a long time ago. The program has reached a plateau, even slipping below the .500 mark in 2013 for the first time in five years. Yet, Jones received a three-year contract extension through 2017 just last December. What gives?

The most perplexing development in Dallas is that Jones’ trademark high-powered has been inconsistent and often unable to carry the team when the D struggles. The Mustangs have averaged less than 30 points during their inventive coach’s tenure, and the 2013 squad sputtered. Even worse, Garrett Gilbert, who provided a spark at quarterback last season, is trying to make it in the NFL.

Welcome to the spotlight, Neal Burcham.

Burcham is the 2012 recruit from Greenbrier (Ark.) High School, who’s the likely successor to Gilbert behind center. While he was erratic in four appearances last year, the staff believes he has a bright future running the offense. The sophomore will bear much of the burden for an attack that too often fizzled in the red zone in 2013. Burcham will be surrounded by an average supporting cast that’ll be looking for help from newcomers, such as blue-chip rookie RB Daniel Gresham and redshirt freshman WR Cedric Lancaster.

The Ponies’ defense is a tale of two different narratives. On the one hand, the front seven shows potential, with LB Stephon Sanders and ends Beau Barnes and Zach Wood. On the other, the secondary is in disarray. SMU is replacing three starters, including top cover corner Kenneth Acker, from a defensive backfield that yielded 272 yards a game through the air in 2013. The team will build around safeties Hayden Greenbauer and Shakiel Randolph, while breaking in a pair of green cornerbacks. Since Jones’ offense is far from a sure-thing these days, there’s more pressure than ever on the D to create takeaways and momentum-changing plays.

Jones deserves credit for breathing life into a once-fading football program. Job well-done, coach. But now that he’s hammered down the base, it’s time to begin building toward new goals and achievements. SMU is in a mini-rut, one it’s hoping to escape with a return to the postseason in 2014.

What to watch for on offense: The arrival of FB Daniel Gresham. Gresham could be the second-coming of Zach Line, the power back who helped give an added dimension to the Mustang passing game. The nation’s top-rated fullback turned away offers from Texas, Florida State and Alabama to play for SMU, and he won’t wait long to play in 2014. Keeping a player of Gresham’s caliber in the DFW area is impactful in ways that extend beyond the obvious. It could become a game-changer in Jones’ recruiting efforts.

What to watch for on defense: Making sense of the cornerbacks. The pass defense was a mess a season ago, despite the presence of gifted CB Kenneth Acker. Now that Acker and Chris Parks are gone, though, the program is starting over at a key position. Junior J.R. Richardson will play a key role in the secondary this season. Although he struggled in 2013 in his return from an ACL tear, the team believes he has the coverage skills to develop into a stopper this fall.

This team will be far better if … it trades more field goal attempts and stalled drives for touchdowns. One of the nagging problems that SMU has faced in recent years is an inability to deliver in the red zone. In fact, the program ranked 109th in the country in red-zone touchdown efficiency in 2012 and 99th a year ago. For a school that plays in so many close games, it’s imperative for the Mustangs to end a higher percentage of drives with six points this season.

The Schedule: The Mustangs had better be ready to gear it up right away with Baylor in the opening weekend and Texas A&M coming after dealing with North Texas. The conference slate isn't too bad with three home games in a four week stretch in the midseason, but the league's most dangerous teams - East Carolina and UCF - have to be dealt with on the road. Closing out at Connecticut in December won't be fun if the weather kicks in.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Darius Joseph. For the Run N’ Shoot to hum, SMU needs a passer with a quick trigger and quick little receivers who can exploit the seams of a defense. Joseph fills the latter requirement. He was one of a dozen players to catch at least 100 passes in 2013, repeatedly bailing out his quarterback when a play began to break down. The coaching staff wants to put Joseph in a position to make more big plays this season by better utilizing his speed and quickness.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Stephon Sanders. Traditionally, SMU is undersized and quick at the second level. Sanders is the exception in Dallas. He’s a punishing 6-3, 250-pound enforcer, who imposes his will on opposing running games and passing attacks. Sanders not only has next-level size and range, but he’s instinctive as well. He’s the most important cog in a D that’s trying to build off last season’s success, despite losing a number of key back seven regulars to graduation.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Neal Burcham. The quarterback position is always going to be important. It’s downright essential when June Jones is in charge of the program. The Mustangs are pining for someone who will not only amass gaudy numbers, which is the easy part, but also run the attack with clutch efficiency in the second half of close games. Burcham must grow up quickly and become the new face of an offense that’s underachieved in recent years.

The season will be a success if ... the Mustangs bounce back with a return to the postseason. The program that had been to four bowl games in a row can’t afford to regress with back-to-back sub.-500 seasons. The schedule is going to be challenging, especially in the first-half, when Texas A&M, TCU and Cincinnati visit, and trips to Baylor, North Texas and East Carolina will be made. SMU has to start pulling out the tight ones after falling to Rutgers, Cincinnati and UCF by a total of ten points in 2013.

Key game: Sept. 27 vs. TCU. Since the September and October schedule is so daunting, the Mustangs might need to author an upset to avoid a debilitating start to the year. A rare upset of the Horned Frogs in the battle for the Iron Skillet could serve as a catapult throughout the rest of 2014. SMU has defeated TCU just twice since 1998, but the Horned Frogs are coming off an uncharacteristically bad season. And the Ponies will be out for revenge when the two square off at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Points per game: SMU 26.8 – Opponents 33.3
- Pass attempts: SMU 619 – Opponents 441
- Red-zone touchdowns: SMU 54% - Opponents 74%

- 2014 SMU Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


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