For one half at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the SMU Mustangs were stuck in a closer-than-expected battle with the Texas St. Bobcats that was initially thought to be a gimmie game for a team coming off a big win. Fortunately for the Mustangs a true freshman used this game as his formal introduction to college football and sparked a second-half outburst in the 47-17 win.
SMU has an outstanding freshman at running back
True freshman TJ McDaniel came into this season expecting to be redshirted, but his hard work on the scout team earned him reps with the first team in practice this week. That resulted in him suiting up on Saturday, and he did not disappoint. Needing only eight carries, the South Lake Carroll high school product finished the game with 159 yards and three touchdowns. McDaniel showed patience and a burst that not seen by a player so young. McDaniel now gives head coach Sonny Dykes another option in an already talented running back rotation that includes Xavier Jones (20 carries, 108 yards, one touchdown) and Ke’Mon Freeman (14 carries, 67 yards)
The SMU defense is making strides each week
Through three games, the Mustangs have forced five turnovers, sacked the quarterback 12 times and only surrendered a 26% conversion rate on third-down. One of the leaders of that much-improved defense is safety Patrick Nelson. The senior from Chicago, IL got off to a fast start the first two games of the 2019 season with 13 tackles, one interception, and two sacks. Against Texas St, Nelson added another seven tackles and three sacks and continues to be one of the leaders on that side of the ball. Safety Rodney Clemons also had a crucial interception in the first-half when the game was still in the balance. The level of aggressiveness from this side of the ball will have to continue if the Mustangs want to have a successful 2019 season.