SMU Mustangs at Temple Owls: The Big Three

The Mustangs enjoyed some earlier momentum against the Owls for all of about a minute on Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Kent Gilley
The Mustangs enjoyed some earlier momentum against the Owls for all of about a minute.
Photo Courtesy: Kent Gilley
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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 Temple game
The score was/wasn’t indicative of how the game was played out. So, take the score as the truth. The game started out positive for the Mustangs, then broke quickly Temple’s way. The Owls blew the doors open early in the game. Ben Hicks struggled, again, early in the game, but he was under siege as if he was being hunted for rare resources. The Mustangs offensive line was as solid as a paper mache submarine. There aren’t strong enough words to describe how poorly the men up front played for the Mustangs on Saturday. Hicks was a battered piece of meat standing, often not, back in the pocket. He got knocked pretty squarely in the second quarter and was held out on the next series, but it looked like the ear clearing grenade blast to empty his head, because he looked better after having gotten that series off. Still, at that point, the Owls could just assume on defense that the ball had to go through the air and take some chances with the ball in the air. Hicks’ numbers and turnovers aren’t telling of his game in Philadelphia, he looks to be growing. Though, if his offensive line doesn’t give him some time, he’ll be doing a hell of a lot soft tissue rehabbing. The defense, also, didn’t play as bad as the score said, often being put well behind the eight-ball because of an offensive turnover. I do suppose I’m excusing and washing a lot away as cover up, but this one was truly different than the box scores will suggest.

#1: 3rd and 4 from the Temple 31 yard line – The Owls wanted to stomp on the gas early and play with some octane out of the gate, with PJ Walker throwing on his first two downs, going one for two and six yards. On the third down, he’d look and throw left, where Jordan Wyatt had cut the inside the route and housed the interception, fifty-five seconds into the game. It looked like it’d be an early swing of the momentum pendulum, and that lasted… oh all of four plays. (See Below)

#2: 4th and 5 from the Temple 30 yard line – The Owls decided to feed in some run game on the following drive to the pick-six, with Jahad Thomas carrying for ten yards, though there was a false start separating the runs. On third down, Walker had his pass gone incomplete, bringing out the punt team. What happened next is so SMU football that it’s sickening. And the way that it would go, this play would break the game, two F$%#-ing minutes into the game. The Temple punter shanked his rugby punt short and it just happened to tag a Mustang, Christian Burks, covering the punt and Temple got the ball back. Sure, one could argue that he kicked it deliberately short, to hope for a bad touch by the coverage team, but that’s giving WAY too much credit. Seven plays later, the game was knotted and the Owls had overcome the early mishap and stole a possession back from the Mustangs.

#3: 3rd and 6 from the SMU 19 yard line – The Mustangs had one building drive before this series, of four times possessing the ball: they had three, three and outs and the drive they had built that ended with an interception. In that stretch of doing nothing with the ball, Temple scored twice and one of them off of the turnover. Glug, glug… pound another one back because it wasn’t going to get sunnier in Philly. The offensive line was not winning up front. On this play, Haason Reddick scorched around Bryce Wilds and pit it on Ben Hicks, in a great impersonation of a truck hitting a parked car, and Hicks fumbled the ball and Romond DeLoatch palmed the unclaimed ball and returned it eight yards for six more and 35 to 7 lead going cherry way. Hicks would leave and come back into the game and play it some moxie, but it was battle lost in the trenches.