The Sonny Dykes era has begun and it’s not off to the start he was expecting. After Chad Morris led the SMU Mustangs to being one of the most potent offenses in the country, Dykes ruined that in one game.
The Mustangs completely flopped and embarrassed the American Athletic Conference. Louisiana Tech is a great opponent, but many would say that SMU is the superior team. Last night though, the Bulldogs proved they were the better bunch.
First Half Analysis
Louisiana Tech was pumped up for the game and wasted no time. The weather may have played a role, but the Tech defense was ready. After a SMU return to the 25 yard-line, Xavier Jones coughed up the football and Louisiana Tech would recover. They squandered great field position, however, as the offense could not get anything going, and turned it over to their reliable kicker Jonathan Barnes. But Barnes missed wide left, giving SMU the ball back.
On the ensuing drive, SMU started mounting what seemed like a good drive, until Ben Hicks threw a poor ball that resulted in an interception by Scedrick Cooper. Tech would take over at the SMU 30 yard-line with great field position again. J’Mar Smith would lead a short, up-tempo drive that would result in a fourth-down QB sneak for the first score of the game. The Bulldogs looked like the superior team early.
That would continue in the quarter as Malik Robinson would intercept and take it to the house on an extremely poor pass by Hicks. To be fair, Hicks was under duress, but the ball was thrown very poorly and was right to Robinson. As of this point, the only positive thing SMU did was stopping LA Tech from going up three more.
SMU would finally calm down and answer. Between nice runs by Xavier Jones and Braeden West and easy throws for Hicks, they marched down into field goal range. Josh Williams was able to kick a chip shot in to at least put some points for a mostly home crowd.
La Tech still maintained all the momentum in the quarter, however. Jaqwis Dancy took the ensuing kick off for 65 yards, giving the Bulldogs great field position once again. In fact, every play they ran was in SMU territory for the quarter. They would cap off the drive with Smith throwing to Teddy Veal on a screen for a touchdown, making the score 21-3, Bulldogs.
SMU would start with the ball after an extremely disappointing first quarter, but were still not ready. An immediate three-and-out by SMU would make Mustangs punt out of their end zone. Again, the Bulldogs took over in Mustangs territory. The Mustangs defense came up big with a nice three-and-out, but would start with poor field position.
Hicks continued to throw the game away, though. On what seemed like a simple slant route, Hicks threw straight into double coverage for another pick-six, this time courtesy of Darryl Lewis. Tech took a dominating 28-3 lead at this point, with the game looking like it was over before the second half had even begun.
After another stalled Mustang drive, La Tech would continue to pour it on. This was the Veal drive as he caught a 44-yard completion followed by a touchdown reception on the very next play. The score now is Bulldogs 35-3, with an outcome many would think would be reversed.
The next SMU possession would result in a West fumble recovered by, you guessed it, La Tech. You could also take a guess of what happened on the ensuing Bulldog drive. A touchdown pass from Smith to Kam McKnight, as the lead expanded to 39 points.
SMU would finally answer as Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn really helped Hicks out on the drive. With a minute to go, Hicks continually found Quinn and Sutton. They capped off the drive with 15 seconds to go as Hicks found Quinn for a touchdown pass. The score at the half was 42-10, Louisiana Tech.
Second Half Analysis
At this point, if you turned off or left the game, no one would have blamed you. The entire action of the game occurred in the first half. The only real offense that happened in the second half was three field goals by Louisiana Tech’s Barnes (one off the post and in). The final score being 51-10 Louisiana Tech.
Overall, SMU will end the season with disappointment. Louisiana Tech will end the season with momentum going into next year. The C-USA proved to be super strong against a tough team from the American, regardless of the excuse SMU will give. Congrats to Louisiana Tech on a great bowl win.
This is a great end to what many Tech fans would have called a disappointing season. This dominant game gives hope for them going into next year. J’Mar Smith looks to be improving, and the offense seems to be clicking. The defense absolutely shut down one of the most potent offenses in the country. This game is huge going into the spring game and is a perfect end to the season.
What a disappointment. This was one of the AAC games that should have resulted in a win. SMU had factors not go their way, sure. They had the weather and coaching change going against them. But at the end of the day, it looked like they were underestimating their opponent. It was a very poor performance by the Mustangs, and this will surely impact recruiting. I feel for Sutton having his only bowl game be a loss. The Dykes era is going to have to flip around pretty quickly as the expectations have risen.