SMU rolled into Tampa on Saturday to open conference play against the USF Bulls and left their first AAC opponent in the dust. SMU dominated from the start easily scoring at will. The final score of 48-21 is really not indicative of how much of a beatdown this game was. SMU was up 34-0 at halftime and increased the lead to an impressive 41-0 until USF scored a few times late to avoid a second shutout at home.
After Saturday’s game, SMU has solidified themselves as a true contender in the conference and one of the better programs (especially among G5 teams) in the country at this point. The Mustangs are hot right now and they have shown that they can sustain their consistent success on both sides of the ball week in and week out. SMU is now ranked #24 in the AP poll which is huge news for the program. This week’s addition to the rankings is SMU’s first appearance in the AP poll since 1986.
SMU racked up 497 total yards on a decent defense in USF. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but Shane Buechele impressed with his efficiency at the quarterback position for the Mustangs and put together scoring drive after scoring drive for the Mustangs. Buechele started off white hot going 13/13 start the game; and ended up finishing the game 21/25 for 226 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. The play calling this season has complemented Buechele’s skill-set well and that was on display again Saturday. Lots of scoring drives consisted of shorter high-percentage throws to just get the ball to SMU’s playmakers and let them work in space. Buechele has shown how an effective leader he is on offense every week and this game against USF was no different.
One of Buechele’s underrated attributes is his ability to move in the pocket and extend plays with his feet. One particular instance of this was on a 3rd & 4 in the 3rd quarter Buechele dropped back to pass and avoided a blitzing defender, decided to tuck it and run and picked up the first down on a scramble of about 10 yards. Buechele ended the drive with a TD run on a broken down play in which he beat the defender to the pylon for 6.
With the exception of an ugly INT he threw into double coverage, Buechele was impressive all day through the air. Shane Buechele doesn’t air it out downfield a ton but he had one beautiful throw in particular the James Proche that could definitely be considered one of the catches of the season thus far in college football. (I know this video quality is trash but this catch was sick)
James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr. showcased why they’re the best WR duo in the American conference on Saturday combining for 12 receptions for 142 yards and 3 TDs. Reggie Roberson Jr. leads all receivers in the AAC with 510 yards already on the year and Proche is now 2nd in the conference in receiving TDs. Both Roberson Jr. and Proche are 1st and 2nd in the AAC in receptions.
The most impressive showing on the offensive side of the ball though for the Mustangs was Xavier Jones’ performance on Saturday. Jones only carried the ball 15 times all afternoon but exploded for 155 yards and 2 TDs. Credit the offensive line for opening up some huge holes for Jones as well. It seemed like every time Jones made it to the second level past the defensive line there was nothing but open space to run. Jones’ two touchdowns came in the first quarter and I don’t think he was touched on either play. Jones’ carries set the tone early and allowed the Mustang offense to cruise after going up 14-0 in the first quarter thanks to Jones.
USF QB Jordan McCloud started the game for the Bulls and actually began their first few drives pretty well completing a few balls downfield and tucking and running for a nice gain early for the Bulls. Unfortunately for the Bulls, their second drive ended in an interception in the end zone by SMU CB Rodney Clemons. Clemons ended the game with two interceptions on the day in an overall impressive showing for this SMU defense. Jordan McCloud was benched at halftime to make way for Blake Barnett. Barnett threw for 222 yards and 3 TDs on 13/21 passing but USF was already down 41 by the time they scored their first points.
Credit to SMU’s front 7 as they dominated the line of scrimmage all day. Linebackers Richard McBryde and Delano Robinson combined for 15 tackles on the day. The SMU defense set a school record Saturday recording 10 sacks on USF. This SMU defense only allowed 54 rushing yards all day to USF. That’s a pretty staggering number even if you’re team’s playing an FCS team if we’re being honest much less an in-conference opponent.
- SMU recorded a program record 10 sacks in one game on Saturday moving them to No. 1 in the country in sacks as a defensive unit.
- Shane Buechele ranks 17th in the country in “Points Responsible For” with 74, currently outpacing Baylor QB Charlie Brewer, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.
- Xavier Jones stays tied with OK State RB Chuba Hubbard for most rushing TDs in the country with 10. (Jones ranks 11th in the country in rushing yards.)
- If you don’t already follow SMU on instagram you should. Almost every post is a pretty sick hype video. This one is a highlight reel for Proche.