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 TCU game
The battle of the Visor-clad coach was a solid game through the first half, the teams gave little wiggle room for plays to be made. The Horned Frogs best player in the first half was Desmon White, just crushing it on punt returns of 31, 14, 29 yards, setting the Frogs up with great field position. As expected, the running lanes weren’t very favorable for the Mustangs to run through, but they weren’t slamming their heads against the wall either. Ben Hicks looked okay in the first, missing a couple of deep shots, including one that was JUST beyond the reach of Courtland Sutton, that would have likely been a touchdown. Still, both teams played strong defensively in the redzone, with each team being forced to accept three instead of the endzone. The Horned Frogs tried seven times to convert a third down in the first half, and picked up none of them. It would not remain sporting too far into the second half. The SMU offense wouldn’t sustain drives early in the third quarter, and left their defense out to dry. Though the defense did hold TCU to a couple of easy yardage field goals, the offense was a problem that night. Maybe, it was TCU’s defense ramping it up, I just don’t know, but it was as smooth an offensive game from SMU as a car with square wheels.
The Plays that Changed the Game
#1: 2nd and 8 from the TCU 13 yard line. The Mustangs had a really solid opening drive going, though they did get a false start to make it second and eight, the Mustangs reached into the gadget pouch. The Mustangs lined up without Ben Hicks in the backfield, without him on the field at all. Ke’Mon Freeman lined up to take the direct snap in the ‘Wildcat’ formation. After reading the play well, not handing the ball off to Braeden West, Freeman took off towards the front left pylon and dove and scored. However, the referee flagged Courtland Sutton for a hold of a defensive back, taking the points off of the board. Though they had a few more shots at it, they’d settle for another redzone field goal. Points taken off the board, never good.
#2: 2nd and 6 from the SMU 19 yard line. This play should have been a lightning rod play for the Mustangs, something to really get things going. Kenny Hill underthrew a ball, and Anthony Rhone picked it off at the five yard line, and snaked his way to about the twenty-five yard line. The first mistake of the game made by either team to this point in the second quarter. NO. Behind the interception, Darrion Millines absolutely flat-lined the intended receiver John Diarse. Originally, it was just a hit on a defenseless receiver, then video-upgraded to a targeting ejection of the safety Millines. Now, if you have been following the Mustangs, you’ll know that Millines is having a great start to the season, both on the physical side, as well as the cerebral aspect of the game. Removing him was as big a play for TCU as there was in the game.
#3: 3rd and 19 from the TCU 45 yard line. The Horned Frogs didn’t stumble out of the gate, the first play of the second half was an attacking of the vacant space where Darrion Millines should have been, for a seventy-five yard catch and run touchdown. This was TCU’s second drive, and they were driving. The Frogs were in a hole, at third and nineteen, and Kenny Hill connected with Taj Williams for a pickup of only fifteen yards, thanks to a solid stopping by Jordan Wyatt. RC Cox ran in and added to the scrum to pull Williams backwards. Sure, he got a bit handsy, and yes, he shouldn’t have put his hands near the helmet. He came in and grabbed the side bracket of the helmet, that mates the facemask to the helmet, and the referees flagged him for a facemask fifteen yard penalty. So, what should have been a punt situation, is now a thirty yard gain with all the additions. Four plays later, the Mustangs would be looking at a seventeen point deficit, and wouldn’t be getting anything from the offense to save themselves.
Final Score: TCU 33 – SMU 3.