“Team has to dig deep after loss”: 3 Takeaways from SMU’s loss at Wednesday’s loss at UCF.

In the first game of the American Athletic Conference, SMU (2-3) lost to UCF (4-1) in Florida. The game, which was originally slated to be played Saturday at UCF’s stadium, was rescheduled twice due to Hurricane Ian.

Here are five key takeaways from the Mustangs’ loss against the Knights.

Conference Focus

After last week’s loss to TCU in the Iron Skillet, SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee implored fans to not read too much into the setback, and not to define the team by that loss. The real focus, he said, was conference play. This means that Wednesday’s result was important.

The team has to dig deep after this loss, said Lashlee. “There’s not going to be a lot of good things written about us and people will try to divide us from within, but I’ve got a team I believe in.”

Although starting well, Lashlee’s first season as SMU head coach has taken a rocky turn with three consecutive losses against Maryland, TCU and UCF. The Mustangs face Navy in Dallas for their second conference game on Friday.

Conversion Conversion

Out of its 16 3rd down attempts, SMU only converted four on Wednesday. The fourth down conversion was even more worrying — two of four. This continues a wasteful offensive display from the Mustangs from the last game against TCU.

Some of those attempts we lost to aggressive plays by Lashlee. One was a chance in the UCF redone where SMU forfeited a field goal to a pass attempt — which was intercepted.

Another was a decision to go for a 4th down in SMU’s own 40-yard line early in the second half instead of a punt.

Trying to win the game is more important than going for the seemingly sensible decision,” said Lashlee. “My gut told me we needed to.”

Well Done Rice

Rashee Rice, who went into the game still leading the nation in receiving yards per game at 141.2, continued his impressive season performance against UCF. He finished the game with 12 receptions for 122 yards.