By Zack Walker
Was this a game that SMU really could have won? Well, coming out after halftime, I’d say yes. Going into the 4th quarter, again I’d say SMU still had the game within reach. And then the Red Raiders got bored of the formalities and unleashed on the Mustangs’ defense.
The drive coming out of the half for SMU was very impressive. Garrett Gilbert was distributing the ball evenly, rushing when he needed to, and working with as much balance as one can afford, and a couple of drive extending penalties, and then a (in my opinion) terrible holding penalty was called on Prescott Line after he was tackled which negated an otherwise great touchdown play. And to cap off that drive, the kick would sail wide right. The following Tech drive ended in a touchdown, so the next Mustangs’ possession had to finish in the endzone. Gilbert responded with a display of his own athletic ability, running for 61 of the drive’s 81 yards (Ten added to the end of one of his runs by penalty).
Garrett Gilbert led a lot of solid drives against the Red Raiders, but when they reach the red zone, he becomes a totally different quarterback. He plays like he’s stuck in “safe mode”, he becomes over-cautious and indecisive. An example, in the second quarter, Gilbert hit Jeremy Johnson for a huge 51 yard gain, a beauty of a pass that gets the offense down to the Tech 10 yard line, and then he was hammered for a sack on first down, not his fault, but on second down he’s looking and shifting around, then he escapes the pocket, and knowing his legs could have possibly got the touchdown, he resets and looks again, then he’s caught for a sack. He had the chance to tuck it, or throw it but he was indecisive and shelled up. Until Gilbert can step up and make plays in the redzone, with his arm, this will be an unthreatening team.
For Texas Tech, at their eastern stadium (completely one sided crowd), it was a great showing for their freshman walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield, who threw himself into the Red Raider record books with his Friday performance. And Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury got off to a nice start to his Head Coaching career.
One last little observation from the game, and I’m not saying this actually happened but it’s just what I saw, but I believe I saw some “New York Giants-style clock management” happening by SMU. When Tech was rolling on a drive, a player cramped up or got banged up. It’s early in the season, and this is when you’ll see players cramping up on the field, but it happened with a sort-of strange regularity. Just throwing that out there…
SMU MVP’s: Offense: QB Garrett Gilbert; Defense: Stephon Sanders/Beau Barnes/Hayden Greenbauer; Special Teams: P Mike Loftus