A 41-23 loss to Texas Tech is not exactly what June Jones and the Mustangs had in mind for their season opener.
Despite the disappointment in the loss, the performance of quarterback Garrett Gilbert is a silver lining.
Gilbert finished the night with 41 completions for 388 yards. He did not throw for a touchdown, but he did run one in on a 23 yard rush in the third quarter. Gilbert ran 14 times for 53 yards and a touch down.
SMU head coach June Jones, said that Gilbert did a lot of things well, but there were still some things he needed to get better at.
Gilbert is still adjusting to the aspects of the ‘Air Raid’ offense implemented by assistant coach Hal Mumme in the off-season. While it was not a complete revamping of the offensive scheme, there is still enough new plays to make Gilbert hesitant under center.
“We did some good things with the passing game,” Gilbert said. “We just have to do a better job at finishing drives when we have a chance to score.”
The Mustangs were able to move the ball effectively, but stalled inside their opponents 20-yard-line on several occasions. SMU converted only three out of five red-zone trips into scores; two for field goals and one for a TD.
One of the early troubles facing the Mustangs is the solidarity of the offensive line. The unit allowed Gilbert to be sacked five times during the game and it seemed as though every time Gilbert dropped back, he was running for his life.
Jones acknowledged the amount of pressure Gilbert was under. Saying that his offensive line performed well at times, but would falter every now and then forcing Gilbert to move around.
Even with Tech rushing Gilbert and moving him out of the pocket, he seemed relatively unfazed by the pressure. Gilbert looked comfortable running out of the pocket. His comfort with running led to him rushing for 52 yards in the third quarter alone.
However, the most impressive stat for Gilbert was his completion percentage. Even with a couple of throwaways and some crucial dropped passes, Gilbert still completed over 66 percent of his throws.
“This offense is all about completions,” Gilbert said. “That’s something we have been working on all through camp.”
The completions are there. Gilbert’s wheels are there. It would be nice if the touchdowns were there too.