I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty. Last night's game was an ugly win. But it was a win nonetheless. Repeat after me: A win is a win is a win is a win.
I maintain that most SMU fans have forgotten what winning football feels like. SMU has gone from losing every game to relishing a win like this one for its rarity to winning occasionally to actually expecting a win every now and then. The SMU fan has forgotten that when a team wins more often than not, that not all the wins are pretty. In fact, nearly every team has a win that is downright ugly.
And this win was certainly of the ugly variety. But style points only count in the sports where you wear leotards or swim suits and not the sports where the other team tries to punch you in the mouth. Accordingly, when the season is over and people are looking at SMU's record, they won't recall that SMU and UAB stunk it up for almost all of three quarters on the Ocho.
Did SMU look good on national TV? Well, some of the students looked good, but overall the crowd was as sparse as the action on the field. Not that there wasn't excitement, but I prefer exciting plays that don't involve turnovers.
Hats off to the defense. SMU held at team that runs 144.13 yards per game to 89 yards. SMU held at team that passes 171.38 yards per game to 133 yards. It held a team that scores 19 points per game to 9. UAB averages 315 yards and was held to 122. That is solid. SMU's defense is far more effective with Muse and Rogers at the ends and it showed all night. Watching the game, I knew it was a matter of time before SMU ran a pass back for a touchdown; the five yard out cannot be a team's bread and butter play.
Offensively, SMU struggled without question until the 4th quarter. If you are looking for a bright spot, then look to teh fact that there were zero sacks. I thought the offensive playcalling was too conservative. Looking at the play by play online, it stems from an effort to establish Martin, which never really happened, compounded by turnovers and SMU never seemed to throw the ball downfield. Second, it strikes me that the offense is more conservative against teams that SMU "should beat" In other words, Bennett isn't willing to let the offense lose the game. While I don't agree with that strategy at all, I suspect that conservative playcalling won't be an issue in the next two games.
Special teams were a mixed bag. I am going to say something harsh. I had a real nice conversation with Kellis Cunningham's family. He seems like a great kid with great support. But he needs more length on his kicks. I am inclined to say we need to go back to Morestead doing triple duty of punting, kickoffs and fieldgoals. Yes, I realize SMU can't afford to have Morestead's leg get tired, but last night I believe UAB started after kickoffs on their 35, 50, 23 and the SMU 45. SMU can't afford that kind of starting position every series.
- Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop running the freeze play!!! Like most trick plays, it worked once. In the words of Joe Piscapo in Johnny Dangerously, "You hung me from a hook. My mother hung me from a hook once. Once." Everybody as seen the film. They know to be ready for it. Time to put that play to rest.
- If I had my way, I'd shatter the glass in the club seats. And that is the tamest of thoughts in my head (I am afraid to add what I would really like to do). Seriously, there isn't a more bored looking (or boring) group of people on the planet. Can they not figure out that a third down play is important?!?! They were even sitting on 4th down!
- I would love to comment on Craig James, but I didn't hear much of what he said because I was either listening to the radio broadcast or at the game. I have the game tivo'd and will get to it when I can.
- For the fourth time in five games, SMU had a lead in the 4th quarter and lost it. In three of those games, SMU wound up winning (against Tulane, Marshall and UAB); only once did SMU lose the game (UTEP). I find that fascinating.
- SMU: 5-0 when the Blog attends; 0-4 when the Blog misses the game.
- Clock management is a work in progress. Good use of the clock at the end of the game, but a poor use of timeouts. Using a timeout on the 2 point conversion is hard to justify, even if it did work.
- I have an attendance post in draft mode; I will talk about it then.
Finally, lets check the ol' blog predictions for the SMU-UAB game:
SMU will beat UAB...CHECK;
SMU will beat UAB by double digits...CHECK;
SMU will hold UAB to under 225 passing yards...CHECK.
Wow. This brings the Blog to 8-1 for predicting the winner (damn NTSU). Again, I made these predictions in August.
One last note, word on the street is that conditioning shouldn't be a problem for the men's basketball team.