When SMU head coach Sonny Dykes decided to start Tanner Mordecai in the season opener, he probably hoped to see his starting QB have a good day. Little did he know Mordecai would accomplish much more, completing 24 of 30 passes for 317 yards and seven touchdowns against Abilene Christian.
Mordecai spoke about how well the team played after the game:
“I think that just shows how much depth we have. Shows we have a lot of guys that can compete at a high level. I trust anyone that’s on the field with me, I have the trust in them.”
For his efforts, Mordecai was named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week. He was also an honorable mention for National Performer of the Week (College Football Performance Awards).
But blowing up against an FCS team, and a poor one at that, is one thing. Can Mordecai be just as deadly against an FBS team? Fans will get the chance to find out this week when the Mustangs welcome the North Texas Mean Green to Gerald R. Ford Stadium.
Like SMU, North Texas got their season off to a nice start with a big win (44-14) over an FCS opponent, the Northwestern State Demons. However, the key to success for North Texas is something teams with strong passing games hate— a clock-eating running game.
North Texas quarterback Jace Ruder was unimpressive against a lackluster Northwestern State team completing just 10 of 21 passes for just 131 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. But the running game was dominant, going for a total of 345 yards and four touchdowns.
DeAndre Torrey accounted for 244 of those yards and three touchdowns.
But the North Texas run game may be covering up a problem—one of the worst defenses in college football. Or at least that was the case last season. Under new defensive coordinator Phil Bennet, the unit looked better in Week One.
However, the competition was garbage making it hard to tell how much better they might be. They did minimize the Northwestern State passing game (157 total yards, one touchdown, and one interception). But they also gave up 261 yards in the run game.
Mordecai is a much better passer than Northwestern State’s Kaleb Fletcher, though.
So what can fans expect from Mordecai in his second start? It will probably be more of the same. Yes, North Texas can run the ball well and may find success against SMU’s average run defense. But if Mordecai can pick apart the lackluster North Texas secondary, the Mean Green may have to abandon the run.
Does that mean Mordecai is in for another big weekend?
Oddsmakers have made the Mustangs heavy favorites to win this game. Since that is probably because of the offense’s potential with Mordecai at the helm, the answer is probably yes.