The SMU football team suffered another blowout loss, a 58-6 drubbing at the hands of sixth-ranked Texas A&M; University. The Mustangs wanted to take a step forward in the first game under Interim Head Coach Tom Mason, but instead played another stagnant game on both sides of the ball. But Mason remains optimistic with the team.
“I have to be patient with this team and let it grow,” Mason said. “I still think we have some talent on this team, and this team can come around in conference [season].”
SMU’s offense remained stagnant, failing to gain a first down until halfway through the second quarter. The Mustangs did not commit a turnover, but they allowed eight sacks bringing the total to 20 through three games.
“We have to look at putting some of those bigger kids in, like Jeremiah Gaines, chipping the edge, doing some things to protect the quarterback a little more,” Mason said. “But we’re better on the offensive line than we were a week ago.”
SMU quarterback Kolney Cassel made his first career start, but was removed after one quarter in favor of Garrett Krstich. He completed just one of five passes for two yards. On the four drives Cassel played, SMU went three-and-out on all of them and totaled negative eight yards.
The Mustangs offense showed some life after Krstich entered, gaining 249 yards. The running game was vastly improved. SMU rushed for 102 yards, 44 of which came from Kevin Pope.
“[Cassel] just wasn’t getting it done, so we had to make a change,” Mason said. “I thought ‘Stich did some decent things, but he has to quit taking those hits [when running] like that.’”
Krstich was sacked five times, and he scrambled nine more times. On many of those carries, he failed to slide and was hit hard by defenders. Mason thought Krstich threw the ball “okay at times,” but was noncommittal on naming him the starter.
In the second quarter, Krstich led the Mustangs on a 15-play drive that lasted nearly eight minutes. It resulted in a 29-yard field goal by Cody Rademacher. It was also the first time SMU had reached the red zone all season. Krstich completed 13 of 24 throws for 137 yards on the day, but he was not satisfied.
“We know that’s not the kind of performance that we want to display,” he said. “We need to put up more points than that, we need to execute and we need to finish in the red zone.”
SMU did not fare better on defense. The defense was on the field for nearly 10 minutes in the first quarter because of the offense’s inability to move the ball. Texas A&M; took advantage of the tired Mustangs defense, gaining 254 yards in the first quarter and 663 overall. Many of A&M;’s big plays on offense were the result of poor tackling by SMU.
“They’re a really well-coached team,” SMU safety Hayden Greenbauer said. “There’s a reason they have that number six by their name. That being said, we made a lot of mental mistakes and [didn’t] finish plays.”
Despite the less than stellar performance, Mason and the players know they have a lot left to play for.
“Don’t count us out,” Krstich said. “We’re still there. This team’s going to hang together, and we’re going to come back.”