The 4th ranked Baylor Bears opened up their season Friday night on the road in Dallas against the SMU Mustangs who were beginning their #PonyUpTempo era under new head coach Chad Morris.
It took Baylor all of 4 plays and 50 seconds to drive down the field and score a touchdown on their opening drive as Devin Chafin finished it off by scampering in from 3 yards out.
SMU answered Baylor’s touchdown and only took them one play and 8 seconds to do so. The first play on offense under Morris went for a 46 yard touchdown as Matt Davis dropped a beauty in the hands of redshirt freshman Courtland Sutton to even the game at 7 apiece. 1 minute and 7 seconds into the game and there were 14 points on the board.
Baylor answered right back with another four play 75 yard drive that was finished off on a 4 yard run by quarterback Seth Russell. Less than two minutes into this game and there were 21 points scored.
SMU was a little more methodical on their second drive, but still able to march down the field and answer right back as Xavier Jones took it in from 4 yards out to tie the game at 14 all.
At this point, it became evident to everyone at Gerald J. Ford Stadium that the Chad Morris era had arrived in Dallas, and coming off of a 1-11 season, there was actually something to cheer about at SMU.
The first two touchdowns scored by SMU in the first half of the first quarter Friday night totaled more points scored (14) than in any game at home last year (13) and more than their first four games combined (12).
Capitalizing on a generous spot on a very close 4th down conversion, Baylor drove 75 yards down the field for the third time in the first quarter and added 7 more points as Seth Russell found Jay Lee on a 7 yard completion. 3:46 to go in the first quarter, 35 points on the scoreboard.
An illegal touching penalty stalled SMU’s next drive, but nothing could slow down Baylor as they added their 4th TD of the 1st quarter when K.D. Cannon got behind the defense for a 36 yard score.
Still not done with the first quarter, 42 points, on pace for 168 combined. Pony Up indeed.
Courtland Sutton grabbed his second TD of the first half as SMU was able to drive down the field again and cut the deficit to 28-21.
The Mustangs had now scored more points in the first half of their opener than in all but two games during all of last season.
Oh, and there was still nine minutes to go in the half.
Oh, and they were playing the #4 team in the country.
After swapping interceptions, SMU got a chance to put some points on the board to end the half, but Matt Davis took a sack inside the five yard line with no timeouts and 10 seconds on the clock in what he would call a "dumb mistake" during the postgame presser.
It’s hard to say that this changed the momentum somehow heading into the locker room, but this was a huge blunder that cost SMU almost guaranteed points before the half.
SMU had no problem moving the ball on their first drive of the second half, but were unable to come away with points. They forced a Baylor punt and were moving the ball again when Matt Davis came up cramping. With Davis out, SMU ended up punting again and Baylor never looked back.
Jay Lee hauled in two more touchdowns for Baylor and suddenly the game had turned into a rout.
Baylor would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter for good measure as they pulled away in the second half on their way to a 56-21 victory.
While SMU was shutout in the second half as the score became lopsided, there was a sense of excitement and optimism in Dallas that could not be found at any point last season.
Chad Morris said after the game that "I promise we are going to win a lot of football games here," and I believe him.
He claimed that "We are going to be a force to be reckoned with in this conference."
I don’t know if the SMU offense will be able to score enough points to keep up with the amount their defense gives up, but I’m beginning to like my bold prediction in our Underdog Dynasty AAC preseason poll already.
ICYMI, my bold prediction was that SMU would finish 4th in the West Division this season and be challenging for a West Division title within 3 years.
Chad Morris brought Van Malone over from Oklahoma State where he coached in the secondary to be his defensive coordinator. Coach Morris and Coach Malone both spent the 2010 season together on the Tulsa staff and this is Malone’s first coordinator gig. I don’t know whether or not Malone will be the answer to revamp the SMU defense, but if they get that unit even remotely respectable within the AAC, this will be a team to be "reckoned with" as Coach Morris indicated.
Matt Davis is a baller. I know Chad Morris inherited him, but he appears to have the necessary skills to be the perfect QB to run his system. It’s almost like I was looking out and seeing #10 from Clemson out there again. Tajh Boyd was inherited by Morris when he showed up to Clemson in 2011 and Morris and Boyd rewrote the Clemson record books together over the course of three seasons. Morris will only get two years with Davis, but that might be all the time he needs to do the same in Dallas.
If you are a defensive coordinator in the American Athletic Conference, you might want to take notice.
The ponies (okay Mustangs) are coming and the only place their program and tempo are headed is UP!