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No. 23 SMU looking to rebound against Memphis

Sportsnaut
Oct 30, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

SMU will look to pick up the pieces after last week’s disheartening loss when it travels to Memphis on Saturday afternoon for an American Athletic Conference game.

The 23rd-ranked Mustangs (7-1, 3-1 AAC) allowed a 100-yard kickoff return with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of a 44-37 setback at Houston last Saturday.

“Yeah, we’ll see where we go from here,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “… It’s just hard to win every game, especially when you’re not one of the elite teams in football from a talent standpoint, know what I mean? Where you can just line up and it doesn’t matter who you play, you’re just going to be better than they are.

“We’re a good football team. We’ve got good players. We’re not going to have 15 first-round draft picks.”

Dykes, however, expressed concern that the dark cloud which followed last week’s loss could carry to Saturday’s game against Memphis (4-4, 1-3).

“It’s like I told our guys, we haven’t been very good after we lose a game, know what I mean?” Dykes said.

“We lost a couple years ago. Didn’t play well at the end of the season in 2019. We lost the Memphis game, and then we lost to Navy a couple weeks later and didn’t play well in the bowl game. Last year, we just didn’t play well at all down the stretch.”

SMU’s Tanner Mordecai has played well this season, ranking second in the nation with 32 touchdown passes. That total is just two shy of Shane Buechele’s school record, set in 2019.

Mordecai on Monday was named one of 15 semifinalists for the 85th Maxwell Award for the Collegiate Player of the Year.

The Mustangs snapped a six-game losing streak in the series with a 30-27 win over the Tigers last season. They haven’t won in Memphis since 2013, however.

While Mordecai will be set to go on Saturday, the same might not be true for Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan as he nurses a right-shoulder injury.

Peter Parrish started for Memphis on Oct. 22 in a 24-7 loss to UCF and threw for 215 yards, with three interceptions, while being sacked six times.

Despite the uneven performance and a conservative offensive game plan, Tigers coach Ryan Silverfield said the extra time afforded by the team’s bye week should do wonders for Parrish.

“I do think you’re not feeling like you’re drinking out of a fire hose,” Silverfield said. “I think maybe less anxiety for Peter as he feels more comfortable with the offense. As he continues to study the game plan, if he’s the guy, then he’ll be ready to roll.”

For all of the hiccups, Parrish showed a comfort level in rushing the ball. He led the team with 60 yards on the ground against the Knights.

Calvin Austin III, who leads Memphis in catches (57), receiving yards (901) and TD receptions (eight), had six grabs for 78 yards and one score in last season’s loss to SMU.

The Tigers have committed 12 turnovers in losing four of their past five games. They will try to avoid falling under .500 for the first time since the 2013 season.

Related: Top 25 College Football Rankings – Alabama on top, Texas A&M making noise

–Field Level Media