Mustangs mauled by Tigers

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October 25, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; SMU Mustangs quarterback Garrett Krstich #14 throws a pass against the Memphis Tigers at Ford Stadium. Photo by Vladimir Cherry

SMU football hoped to put up its best performance for Family Weekend, but the Mustangs were mauled 48-10 by the Memphis Tigers. The Mustangs (0-7, 0-3 American Athletic Conference) scored a touchdown at home for the first time all season, but it wasn’t nearly enough to beat the Tigers (4-3, 2-1 AAC).

The Mustangs defense had a promising start. On their first defensive series, they stuffed Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch on fourth and one near midfield. Linebacker Robert Seals sacked Lynch on the next drive, forcing a fumble.

But SMU’s offense was unable to capitalize on the early chances, and the defense crumbled after the first two drives. The Mustangs gave up 582 yards and 29 first downs.

The Tigers ran the ball 53 times for 230 yards. Four of their six touchdowns came on the ground. Lynch threw for 307 yards and a touchdown and averaged 13.3 yards per pass. Jason Stewart replaced him in mop-up duty. The two Memphis quarterbacks combined for only seven incompletions.

“[Big plays] were a big-time problem,” SMU Interim Head Coach Tom Mason said. “I was really disappointed in how that happened. They got behind us twice and made big plays, and that was the deciding factor in the game, I thought.”

Garrett Krstich let the Mustangs’ lone touchdown drive, which ended with Prescott Line galloping into the end zone from a yard out. But Krstich air mailed two interceptions and made several throws that bounced in front of his target. He completed 10 of 22 passes before being replaced by Matt Davis early in the third quarter. Davis later led SMU on an 11-play, 43-yard drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Cody Rademacher. He also rushed seven times for 46 yards.

“We’re still evaluating [the quarterback] situation,” Mason said. “Obviously ‘Stich wasn’t having a great day out there, so we wanted to take a look at Matt and see what he could do. I thought Matt did some good things with his legs. He threw a couple good passes but he was three of nine of the day, and 33 percent is not going to get it done at quarterback. We’re struggling at that position.”

Mason said that if he decides to go with Davis, he would put in a package of plays that suit his dual-threat skills. The Mustangs have a bye this weekend, so Mason would have time to get Davis comfortable.

“I think I need to keep progressing,” Davis said. “Just making all my reads and all my throws…I just need to get better overall. The coaches are going to make the decisions they are going to make for what they feel is best for the team, and we’re going to go with it.”

Kolney Cassel played a drive at the end of the game, but did not move the ball. The three SMU quarterbacks completed just 13 of their 33 pass attempts for just 114 yards.

Mason was pleased with Kevin Pope’s effort in his second start of the season at linebacker. Pope returned to defense after playing running back in the first half of the season.

“That’s the kind of kid you want to coach every week,” Mason said. “He had 12 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss…You gotta love that kid. We wouldn’t be sitting here talking about problems if I had 20 kids like Kevin Pope.”

Mason said Pope was also lobbying to play on offense when Line was knicked up.

The Mustangs play next on Nov. 8 on the road in Tulsa.

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