SMU football dropped their season opener on Friday night to Texas Tech 41-23 on ESPN in front of a sell-out crowd of 34,790 at Ford Stadium.
Even with SMU outgaining Texas Tech 490 yards to 461 yards, which doesn’t happen often when matched up against a Kliff Kingsbury coached team, SMU’s drives stalled too many times in the redzone. Texas Tech took advantage of their opportunities.
“We just have to do a better job at finishing drives when we have chances to score. SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert said. “Turning three points into seven points and really turning that drive and early on in the second half into point’s period. So we missed some opportunities, but I thought we did some good things and we have some stuff to build on.”
The Red Raiders started true freshman Baker Mayfield at quarterback and the former Lake Travis High School quarterback starred, throwing for 413 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start.
Gilbert, another Lake Travis High School product, didn’t have a bad game either, completing 66 percent of his passes for 388 yards while adding another 53 yards on the ground, more than all the other SMU running backs combined.
The pass protection was spotty all night as the Red Raiders sacked Gilbert five times. SMU made some changes on offense with passing game coordinator Hal Mumme tweaking some parts of SMU head coach June Jones’ offense. The offensive line struggled with the quick Texas Tech defensive line, but Gilbert was a good bright spot after struggling last year early.
“The things that we did from last year, he was very sharp on those things. Jones said. “But whenever you tweak and add, you have to live through game experience to do that. Like I said, he’s got to get better, I’ve got to get better and the team has to get better.”
Both teams started slow offensively, settling for field goals until Texas Tech made it 13-9 with one minute left in the first half. SMU then drove down the field and Chase Hover made a 51 yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Texas Tech and SMU traded touchdowns in the third quarter before Tech scored three unanswered touchdowns to go up 41-16. SMU added a one yard touchdown run from Prescott Line with a little over a minute to go in the game, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Texas transfer Traylon Shead was supposed to come and replace Zach Line in the SMU offense, but he managed just 22 yards on nine carries before leaving with a strained MCL injury.
Both defenses did a solid job stopping the run, but the secondaries struggled all game and neither team could generate a turnover, something SMU did extremely well last season.
“It’s always bad to just see the ball not bounce your way and everything but you can’t think about “what ifs”. We got the ball out, they got pushed back. We live to fight another down,” SMU defensive back Kenneth Acker said.
SMU now faces Montana State, an FCS opponent, on Saturday at Ford Stadium and will look to get their first win of the season.