The SMU Mustangs finally got on the board in the American Athletic Conference win column. It was an effort that shouldn't be ignored, especially considering it was Senior Night. Despite this season of challenges, the Mustangs proved that they weren't a lost cause.
Matt Davis and Xavier Jones were simply on fire. Whenever SMU needed a big play, they let their athleticism take over for big plays. The Tulane Green Wave had one of the worst tackling performances I've seen all year in the AAC. Even when they would keep Davis/Jones bottled up at the line of scrimmage, their poor tackling allowed for many yards-after-contact.
Tulane drove pretty well down the field and appeared to be set to take an early 3-0 lead with 10:30 left in the 1st quarter when a 40-yard Andrew DiRocco field goal attempt was blocked by SMU's Zach Woods and scooped up by linebacker RC Cox for the 66-yard score.
Tulane's Tanner Lee was ineffective to say the least finishing the game 9-22 for 103 yards and a lone touchdown early in the second quarter when SMU's momentum had already been established. The lone bright spot for Tulane is and will be moving forward, Sophomore Dontrell Hilliard. Hilliard averaged 8.4 yards-per-carry and showed explosiveness that the Green Wave should be excited about as he matures in his career.
Tulane absolutely needs to find a solution at quarterback. Backup Jordy Joseph saw some game action after Lee left in the 3rd quarter, but obviously isn't the answer as this is his Senior year. The defense is of obvious concern as well, but as this game demonstrated, if you have a little bit of energy and better athletes, you can win in the AAC.
In his 4th year, Head Coach Curtis Johnson has led his team straight to the American cellar after a promising 7-6 campaign in 2013. With the AAC proving that the conference has plenty of coaching talent and possible vacancies this off-season, he should consider his seat to be warming up.
SMU should savor this win, but only momentarily. They head to Memphis next week to play a Tiger team that has just finished a three game gauntlet of #16 Navy, #19 Houston, and a very, very good Temple team. With the Tigers reeling and SMU fresh off of their best performance of the season, this may be a trap game waiting to happen.
Players of the Game
In one of his best career performances, the Junior QB left it all out on the field finishing with 321 total yards, 156 of those yards were on the ground, and a touchdown. Definitely a great way to finish your Junior home campaign.
Finally! Jones has been hit and miss all season but this was finally his breakout performance. He finished with 117 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added 3 receptions for 44 yards through the air. He's only a freshman and should figure out his game as they finish out the season and look towards 2016.
Zach Wood/RC Cox:
There aren't much better ways to gain momentum early in a ballgame like blocking a field-goal for a 66-yard touchdown return. This set the tone early and Tulane never really recovered.
SMU "Walker, Texas Ranger" Quote That Best Describes This Game:
A.D.A. Alex Cahill: How about a cruise for our honeymoon?
Ranger Cordell Walker: We've already done that.
A.D.A. Alex Cahill: That was a river raft!
Ranger Cordell Walker: Close enough.