SMU didn’t do itself any favors Sunday night in College Station.
The Mustangs had their shot on a national stage to prove that they deserved an interview from the powers that be of the Big 12. But after a 46-14 whoopin’ by No. 8 Texas A&M, the Big 12 might not pick up SMU’s phone calls for a while.
“We got our rear ends kicked every which way,” coach June Jones said. “It’s disappointing, but it’s one game. You move on.”
In SMU’s first series, running back Zach Line bulldozed through A&M’s defense for back-to-back first downs. The underdog was driving. But on his first attempt, quarterback Kyle Padron’s pass was tipped and then picked off by the Aggies, who ran the ball down to the SMU 6-yard line. A&M was up 7-0 less than two minutes in.
Padron, who has been the SMU starter for a year-and-a-half, was intercepted again on the next series and was quickly yanked.
“He wasn’t himself,” Jones said.
It was backup J.J. McDermott’s turn. A senior who had transferred from New Mexico State a few years back, McDermott had only played in a handful of games last year for SMU. He went 21 of 34 for 254 yards and a touchdown Sunday.
Jones doesn’t like to change quarterbacks very often and thought about putting Padron back in, but “the game didn’t look like that was the way to go.”
SMU continued to plague itself in the first half—an embarrassing botched onside kick went one yard and resulted in “illegal touching.” That gave A&M its third short field in as many series and set up its third touchdown of the night.
Jones said kicker Brad Namdar, who walked on the team just a few weeks ago, had executed that play “pretty perfectly” during practice last week.
“I didn’t know what else to do besides laugh,” Jones said.
Down 20-14 in the first quarter, the game was well within reach for SMU.
“We were gonna win the game, absolutely,” McDermott said of his mindset at the time. “I thought we were poised for a comeback.”
But then A&M cranked it up. By halftime the Aggies held a 33-14 lead and SMU strung together just 137 total yards in the second half.
“We didn’t do anything to start the second half and we didn’t stop them, either,” Jones said.
The Aggies’ defense was overwhelming. They swarmed and tackled and SMU’s offensive line, that’s comprised of five seniors who have played together for four years, allowed eight sacks.
A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill went untouched. He picked apart SMU’s secondary, going an almost perfect 21 of 26 for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
“They’re a great football team, obviously Top 10 in the country,” McDermott said. “You gotta give them a lot of credit, but we didn’t play as well as we thought we should have. I didn’t feel like we performed at our highest level. But that’s how it goes sometimes.
“This game won’t define our season.”
A&M star running back Cyrus Gray pummeled SMU’s defense for 132 yards and two touchdowns, extending his 100-yard rushing streak to eight games.
After the game, Jones did not mention whether McDermott or Padron would start next weekend against UTEP.
With the loss, SMU has dropped 14 straight to Big 12 opponents. Not exactly the type of thing to put on a resume when applying for a job.