Fresh Off a Bye Week, Mustangs Seek First Win

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SMU has five games left to get in the win column, and Saturday’s tilt in Tulsa might be the Mustangs’ best opportunity. The Golden Hurricane (1-7, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) has lost every game since beating AAC foe Tulane way back on Aug. 28.

But the Mustangs have lost all seven of their games and have surrendered 40 points in every one, while eclipsing the 10-point mark on offense only twice. Looking for an offensive spark, SMU Interim Head Coach Tom Mason said that quarterback Matt Davis could make his first career start. He complimented Davis’ performance in SMU’s Oct. 25 loss to Memphis.

“He did some things with his legs I really liked,” Mason said. “I think he gives us a dual-threat type thing. I’m looking for explosive plays, and he’s a guy that can give us some explosive plays.”

Davis entered the Memphis game early in the second half, replacing Garrett Krstich. He rushed for 46 yards on seven carries, but completed only three of nine passes. Mason had the bye week to give the junior college transfer an extended look, especially with Krstich missing practice time with an ankle injury.

“I think [Davis] looks pretty good and he’s throwing the ball pretty well,” Mason said. “He’s starting to understand it. That’s one thing about that Run ‘N Shoot offense, it’s going to take you until game six or seven to develop.”

If Davis starts Saturday, he will do so against a Tulsa defense that has allowed 30 points in every game. However, the Golden Hurricane has moved the ball at times. Its 295.1 passing yards per game ranks 18th nationally, but those yards have led to just 23.9 points per game.

“I still think they are a good football team,” Mason said. “You look at them, they’re 450 yards a game offensively…They look pretty good on film, really.”

Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans is on the shorter side for a quarterback, but he has still thrown for 2,290 yards with 14 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He is not the most efficient passer, as he has completed just 55.6 percent of his passes and averaged a subpar 6.78 yards per pass. Yet Mason had nice words about him.

“He plays within their scheme,” Mason said. “They have a little spread-out, play action scheme for him. He’s kind of a dual-threat kid…They’ve built a package around him. They’re not asking him to do things he can’t do.”

The Golden Hurricane’s below-average running game has done Evans no favors, but it has a chance to succeed against an SMU defense that gives up 5.5 yards per carry and 240 rushing yards per game. Evans also has the AAC’s leader in receiving yards, Keevan Lucas, at his disposal. His 929 receiving yards rank ninth nationally and he has hauled in eight of Evans’ 14 touchdown passes.

Tulsa has shown flashes throughout the season and has a couple playmakers, but this game is SMU’s best chance for a win in 2014.

“I’m one of those guys that says the glass is always half-full, so I’m thinking this might be the time we turn it,” Mason said.

The game kicks off at
11 a.m. and can be viewed on CBS Sports Network.

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