Battle of Two Beleaguered Programs: SMU vs. North Texas

Soobum Im - USA Today  Sports

Soobum Im – USA Today
Sports

Coming off games both programs would love to forget, the SMU Mustangs and North Texas Mean Green look to get their first victory of the season when the two teams meet at Apogee Stadium on Saturday September 6th at 11:00 a.m. CT.

The Mustangs are coming off a defeat at the hands of in-state rival Baylor Bears where they were not only shut out 45-0, but the offense failed to accumulate over 100 yards of total offense. Everyone in the state of Texas knew this would be a tough match-up for the Mustangs but they did not expect this type of defensive domination by the Bears.

The Mustangs quarterbacks out of rhythm all evening. Starter Neal Burcham’s completion numbers, 15-of-26, were efficient but because of constant defensive pressure many of his passes were of the short distance variety and he finished the game with only 59 yards passing. As bad as the passing game was the rush offense was even worse. The tandem of Prescott Line and Kevin Pope combined for 27 yards on 10 carries and because of the large deficit were unable to generate a rhythm all night.

The one bright spot on the evening was the fact that the Mustangs were able to force two turnovers: an interception by senior safety Hayden Greenbauer and a forced fumble by junior linebacker Caleb Tuiasosopo

The Mean Green fared only slightly better in their 38-7 loss to the Texas Longhorns. They also failed to reach the 100+ total yard plateau and their only touchdown on the night came when senior defensive back James Jones fell on a botched snap in the endzone.

As with the Mustangs poor quarterback play was the demise of North Texas as starter sophomore Josh Greer only completed 2-of-11 passes for eight yards — he did connect with two Longhorn defenders as well.

Despite trailing all night Head Coach Dan McCarney did stick with the running game and found some success as the trio of: Reggie Pegram, Antoine Jimmerson and Jeffrey Wilson combined to rush for 102 yards on 29 carries. The overall rushing statistics don’t look that promising due to the 34 yards loss from the four Longhorn sacks.

With the talent level being more equal, I expect a more competitive game this Saturday — especially if both teams can find a way of generating any semblance of a pass offense.

KEY PLAYERS:

For SMU it has to be the running back tandem of Line and Pope. Against Texas the Mean Green gave up 163 rushing yards, including two plays over thirty yards, so the opportunity will be there to control the line of scrimmage for the Mustangs they just have to take advantage. Yes this was the first game for Pope since moving from linebacker, but the coaches made the move because he had the talent to play the position… now it’s time to show it.

You cannot have just as many completions to the opposing team as you do your own receivers and expect to be successful. but that’s what happened with first year starter Josh Greer. You cannot blame lack of skill for starting quarterback Greer’s poor performance, because he threw for 1,205 yards at Navarro Junior College in 2013, so it had to be first game jitters of playing in Austin against the name on the front of the opposing team’s jersey instead of focusing on the back. This week playing at home should settle him down and provide a better statistical result.

Prediction:

The success, or failure, usually can be determined by a team’s quarterback play. And as we saw in week one, neither team had good play from such a critical position. But despite being bad, Burcham showed the ability to at least complete passes with some consistency and that will be enough for the Mustangs to win what will be an offensive “outburst” for both teams.

SMU 27 North Texas 16

 

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