SMU Mustangs at North Texas Mean Green: The Big Three

The SMU Mustangs start off the season with a win and are looking forward to adding another next week. Photo Courtesy: Joesph Dowling
The SMU Mustangs started off the season with a win and are looking to add another next week. Photo Courtesy: Joesph Dowling
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By Zach Walker

I like the style of recapping the game the way that I started last season, so once again, the three most pivotal plays from the SMU Mustangs’ game.

A summary of the North Texas game: It was massively important to catch the first step of the staircase, because missing that first opportunity is a cloud that often doesn’t go away. The Mustangs did something they hadn’t done in ages, start a season with a victory. Yeah, that’s right. The SMU Mustangs have started a season, going on the road, to a place (Denton) in which they had never won, and took the game by the face. Now, they had plenty of evidence that this is still SMU, inconsistencies were apparent, penalties are still a big time hindrance on offense, but for now, the standings show that the Mustangs have played a game and have the same number of wins as Houston, Alabama, and Clemson.

#1: 3rd and 1 at the UNT 49 yard line: The Mustangs’ and Chad Morris want to establish the run in games, as a way to dictate what they want to do. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Mustangs’ threw the ball only once out of the five plays that preceded this third and short. Xavier Jones would get the blood flowing early, however. After gaining just three yards on two carries, Jones would bust off an epic forty-nine yard scamper for the Mustangs’ first points of the season, and on their first drive too. The following possession on defense would be crucial. What’s the good in getting points, if one were to concede them right back? Darrion Millines, on a second down rush by Jeffery Wilson, would staple him with a monster tackle, trying to set a tone. After a UNT penalty on the next play, Millines would intercept an Alec Morris pass and put a lid on a possible rebuttal from North Texas.

#2: 1st and 10 at the SMU 37 yard line: On a fourth and short, rather than slam their firing back Jeffery Wilson through the mid-section of the Mustangs’ defense, North Texas elected to get clever and throw the football. Horace Richardson would intercept the pass, the third team interception to this point in the game, and return it fifteen yards to the SMU 37 yard line. Shown that he’ll take his chances with the advantage, Chad Morris chose a deep shot. Matt Davis floated a pass to James Proche, who made a terrific over-the-shoulder catch, down to the North Texas 11 yard line. What happened next was a ‘Monty Python’ sketch. Here’s the happenings. False start, so it’s now 1st and 15, so SMU coaches called a timeout. Then Matt Davis had a four yard negative rush, which brings up a 2nd and 19. On the following play, Chauncey Briggs was called for a hold, now 2nd and 29. Next play, Daniel McCarty tabbed for a holding penalty, now its 2nd and 39. A draw play with Xavier Jones loses a yard, which brings up an even 3rd and 40, so understandably knowing their about to get the ball back well, UNT calls a timeout. On the flip side of the stoppage, SMU false start again, bringing up a 3rd and 45. Matt Davis rolls left and really looks like he just wings it towards the endzone, right to Courtland Sutton for a touchdown. The response is mixed. I know Chad Morris will look back at that series of plays with a natural coaches’ disgust, then might crack a sinister smile watching his team score against an unbelievable down like that.

#3: 1st and Goal at the UNT 4 yard line: This play was more of sort of the coffin nail. And a damn demoralizing at that. The North Texas defensive back interferes with Courtland Sutton on this two-step drop and fade from Matt Davis, and Sutton, with his free hand simply reaches over the UNT defender and catches the ball for a touchdown. That was Sutton’s third catch of the game. And his third touchdown. The first was a post shot throw by Ben Hicks for an eighty-eight yard catch and run. The second was that 3rd and 45, which was outstanding. But, this catch was the one. He out everything-ed the thing. He out-jumped, out-maneuvered, and out-muscled the other guy to haul in a play, made more spectacular because he did it. Courtland Sutton is a straight out of the box beast. He’s a Tron-in-training, in my estimates. Scoff all you want, at the fact that this was UNT, but go back to last year versus TCU, who resorted to fouling him rather than sportingly contest him. He’s big time. Simple as that.