Padron struggles early, No. 8 Texas A&M beats SMU
SMU's Kyle Padron set school records in almost every statistical passing category last season and the Mustangs were looking for more from him this year.
But by SMU's third possession Sunday night, Padron was benched after two interceptions, the Mustangs were down 14-0 and No. 8 Texas A&M was well on its way to a 46-14 victory.
Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael ran for two touchdowns apiece and Ryan Tannehill threw for two more scores to lead the Aggies.
SMU coach June Jones replaced Padron with backup J.J. McDermott after the early miscues and he helped the Mustangs cut it to 20-14 in the second quarter.
''I just had a feeling on two of the errors that he was not himself,'' Jones said about Padron. ''I thought I would settle him down and then get him back in the game, but McDermott was the way to go.''
But the Mustangs couldn't do much offensively after the got within a touchdown and the Aggies scored 26 straight points the rest of the way to secure the win.
''We didn't do anything to start the second half (and) we didn't stop them either,'' Jones said. ''The combination of that put it away.''
Jones said he doesn't change quarterbacks very often and that McDermott ''did some good things.''
Steven Campbell intercepted a pass by Padron and returned it 51 yards to the to the SMU 6 on the Mustangs' first drive of the game. Michael scored on a 4-yard run two plays later to give Texas A&M a 7-0 lead.
Padron's pass was intercepted on the next drive, this time by Trent Hunter, who returned it 30 yards to give A&M another short field with the ball at the SMU 45. Gray got the Aggies in the end zone to finish that drive with a 5-yard run to make it 14-0.
That's when Jones had seen enough from Padron and replaced him with McDermott. The switch got SMU's offense going, with McDermott orchestrating a seven-play, 60-yard drive fueled by Line's running and capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by the back to cut it to 14-7.
The Mustangs tried an onside kick after that, but it traveled just one yard and sat on the ground for a few seconds before SMU jumped on top of it, giving Texas A&M the ball at the SMU 31.
''We had worked on the onside kick pretty good, but that happens with 18-year-old kids,'' Jones said. ''I just had to sit back and laugh. It was unfortunate for him.''
The Aggies again took advantage of excellent field position when they converted that miscue into another touchdown by Gray, this one on a 2-yard run. Hunt blocked the extra point attempt to leave A&M's lead at 20-7.
Gray finished with 132 yards rushing and Michael added 85. Tannehill was 21 of 26 for 246 yards. Ryan Swope led Texas A&M's receivers with eight receptions for 109 yards and a score and Jeff Fuller added six catches for 52 yards.
Texas A&M had eight sacks, led by three by Tony Jerod-Eddie, the Aggies most since 2002.
McDermott finished with 254 yards passing and a touchdown, but was sacked seven times.
''I could have gotten the ball out faster,'' McDermott said. ''Anytime you're sacked, it's not all the offensive line's fault. It has a lot to do with everybody, quarterback getting rid of the ball, receivers getting open. I got sacked however many times, obviously I was feeling somewhat rushed, but I'm sure a lot of that was my fault, too.''
Zach Line ran for 128 yards and a score and 6-foot-8 defensive end Margus Hunt blocked two extra points for the Mustangs. Line had 101 yards rushing with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, but managed just 27 the rest of the way.
''We could not tackle Zach Line in the first half,'' Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. ''He made us look stupid out there. I thought we corralled him a lot better in the second half.''
The Aggies had built a 33-14 lead at halftime and tacked on a field goal on their first possession in the third quarter to make it 36-14.
Tannehill found tight end Hutson Prioleau on a 32-yard touchdown pass later in the third quarter to extend A&M's lead to 43-14.
The Mustangs trimmed the lead to 20-14 when McDermott found Keenan Holman on a 27-yard touchdown pass on his second drive.
The Aggies finally found an answer for the McDermott-led offense on his third possession and Mustangs had to punt. The Aggies went to Swope on their next drive, hitting him four times for 53 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown to leave it at 27-14 in the second quarter.
Texas A&M sacked McDermott twice on SMU's next drive and the Mustangs had to punt. Michael finished the drive with three consecutive runs, including a 1-yard TD run for the Aggies. Hunt blocked his second extra point attempt of the game, and the Aggies led 33-14 at halftime.
Jones wasn't happy with his team's performance, but stressed to his players that it was just one game and they should put it behind them.
''I told them: 'You got your read ends kicked,''' he said. ''You can feel bad until next Saturday night when you can play somebody again, and we'll find out about ourselves.''