Last Saturday marked a critical turning point in the SMU football turnaround under June Jones. This was no fluke upset over a ranked team. This was a well-deserved away victory for a team on its way back into the national spotlight. The story of the game for SMU was its first half defense and its passing offense.
Like I said in the preview for the game, both teams have a suspect pass defense. What I didn't anticipate was just how much better the wide receivers for SMU are than the TCU secondary. The domination in the passing game was a result of great play calling (made easier by the fact that on almost every other run play Zach Line was getting about 10 yards), great throws, great catches, and wide open receivers. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that Cole Beasley, SMU's go-to slot receiver, was out due to injury.
To put it simply, the passing attack was at its best for the whole year by far. Except for one interception, which was called back because of a pass interference, Padron McDermott was about as good as a quarterback can get. There were multiple times in the game where JJ either took a sack rather than scrambling and losing yards, or just threw it away smartly. It was in these situations where his advantages over Padron were evident. Padron would have either thrown up a jump ball to be intercepted or scrambled and lost yards. I give the offense an A+.
The offenses job was also made much easier by the defense's play in the first half. Taylor Thompson (DE), a legitimate NFL prospect, was an absolute beast and when he wasn't actually getting sacks or tackles he was scaring the QB into making bad decisions. Chris Banjo and Ja'Gared Davis were also flying around the field and affecting play. TCU did start to figure out the defense and scored 16 points in the 4th to make it to overtime (which is understandable considering how the TCU offense isn't going to be held down for long and SMU is still not a very deep team), but the defense held them when it mattered in overtime. Overall, I give the defense a B+
So what does this mean for the season? SMU should have played much closer to A&M, dominated the next three teams they played, and then beat a very game TCU team. This is a true turnaround, and a sign that SMU is ready to become a BCS buster (or a BCS conference team?) in the near future. SMU has a legitimate ability to go undefeated for the rest of the season. Yes, I said undefeated. That means 9-1. That means being ranked in the top-25. That means going to a legitimate bowl game. That means a huge improvement in recruiting. That means....well you get the picture.