SMU’s football team is looking for more consistency from its offense as it returns to the field against Temple on Friday night.
The Mustangs came away with a 31-10 win over East Carolina last Thursday. Head coach Rhett Lashlee was pleased with the effort from his defense and special teams but lamented the offense’s performance — particularly in the second and third quarters.
“Offensively, [we did] not [play] to our standard,” head coach Rhett Lashlee said as he met with the media earlier this week. “Not good. Not good enough. … We got physically whipped, and we weren’t very good for two, two-and-a-half quarters of that game.”
SMU jumped out to a 14-0 lead but did not score again until the fourth quarter as East Carolina cut the deficit to four points. The Mustangs added a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but it was defensive back Jonathan McGill’s interception return for a touchdown that helped SMU pull away.
“We played the field position,” Lashlee recounted. “We didn’t give them a chance to win the game. We played to the strength of the moment, which was our defense, and made enough plays.”
SMU’s offense has been alright this season — averaging 417 yards and 33.3 points– but those numbers present a sharp decrease compared to the 472.8 yards and 37.2 points the Mustangs put up last season. Lashlee says the need for more consistency has held his team back.
“Offensively, as a whole, we’re just not making routine plays routine,” Lashlee explained. “It’s all or nothing. It’s feast or famine. We’re running around throwing touchdown passes, or it’s negative-1 or no gain. I think that was the first game [where] I felt like we physically didn’t win that part of the battle. I think the evidence in the first five games tells you we’re capable of doing that, but we didn’t, and it showed.”
“You can’t be a consistently good offense at a high level if it’s just all or nothing,” he added. “Once that clicks, I think we’ll continue to make good plays. Our bad plays aren’t bad right now, but we don’t have near enough good ones.”
While the offense struggled last week, the defense continued to be a bright spot, as it has all year. The Mustangs are allowing just 17 points per game and rank 19th in the nation in total yards allowed, fueling the team’s confidence every week.
“That confidence has to be something you build on, not something you relax and take for granted,” Lashlee said. “It was awesome to win a game where our defense just held the line. … That gives us a lot of confidence, but we also know we can’t win consistently that way. We’re going to have to play good team ball.”
SMU gets a chance to play “good team ball” against one of the statistically worst defenses in college football this weekend. Yet, Lashlee is making sure his team stays focused and does not overlook a seemingly inferior opponent.
“I thought there were a lot of plays that they played well against North Texas, but then they gave up the big play,” he told the media. “We’re going to have to execute, and it doesn’t matter who we play. If we don’t execute, it’s not going to go well. This Friday’s an opportunity for us to do that because it’s our next chance, and we need to play well.”
SMU (4-2, 2-0 in American Athletic Conference) faces Temple (2-5, 0-3) in Philadelphia at 6 p.m. CT.