What we learned from the SMU Mustangs’ 45-20 loss to the Michigan Wolverines

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America

This is one of the few instances where the scoreboard does not tell the full story. Yes, the SMU Mustangs lost to the University of Michigan 45-20, but this was perhaps the most promising game for the Mustangs during the Sonny Dykes era.

The Militia lives on through James Proche

Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn may have moved on to the NFL, but the Militia (the nickname for the SMU receiving group) lives on with James Proche leading the way. Last season playing third-fiddle, Proche had 40 catches for 816 yards, and the expectation in 2018 was that those numbers double since he would be the primary receiver. But it didn’t look that way to start the season. Against UNT and TCU, Proche only had eight catches for 127 yards, but against the Wolverines, Proche had 11 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Proche has never been one to lack confidence, and against the highly touted Michigan defense, he showed why he is one of the best receivers in the conference and maybe even the nation.

William Brown earned more Playing Time

Quarterback Ben HIcks play (7-of-16 for 113 yards, one touchdown/one interception) against the Wolverines summed up his entire career as the SMU quarterback. He will make a great play or two, but will also do something that hurts the team’s chances of winning — the play Saturday was an ill-timed interception that was returned for a touchdown to make the score 21-7 before halftime.

That turnover could have very well been the thing that started the William Brown era at SMU as he replaced Hicks in the second half and never looked back.

Brown, a true freshman from Rosenberg, TX. Brown had a scholarship offer from Indiana and showed on Saturday that he has the talent to play with the big boys of college football by completing 64% of his passing for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 48 yards and caught one pass for 14 yards to show his versatility.

The versatility that Brown brings to the table cannot be denied, and the ability to be poised on the road in front of over 100,000 shows that he deserves more playing time.

The Defense still has a long way to go

Similar to last week versus TCU, the SMU defense crumbled when it mattered. Versus Michigan, in the second half, the unit allowed three touchdowns on four scoring drives. The defensive unit has to do a better job of limiting the opposing offense from moving up and down the field with ease. In the first two games, the offense struggled to sustain drives to give the defense a chance, but against the Wolverines, SMU had two 10+ play drives which should have allowed the defense to be rested enough to make plays, but it couldn’t. Linebacker Richard Moore finished the game with six tackles and two tackles-for-loss, but the defensive highlight was the goal-line interception by safety Mikial Onu.

There isn’t much time to sulk about the third straight loss because the Mustangs open AAC conference play this Saturday against Navy. The Midshipmen and its triple-option offense will provide another set of challenges for a team that has yet to find a way to stop its opponents this season through the air and on the ground.

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