In a game where the weather took the air out of the ball, SMU hung tough against rival TCU but couldn't overcome their quarterback's play.
The Mustangs showed resiliency and fight even after getting steamrolled in their first two real games. While the weather helped stymie the Horned Frogs' air attack, the Ponies competed. They were outmatched on paper and the eye test said the same, but they flew around the field, Zach Line ran hard and they looked like they belonged against the nation's 15th ranked team. But then, there was their quarterback.
A heralded recruit out of Austin, Garret Gilbert's transfer to SMU was supposed to provide consistency under center. It was supposed to spark the program. It has not. The quarterback has consistently struggled to deliver the ball accurately, and 4 games in it has become clear it's not a lack of familiarity. He's not acclimating to the system. It's not a lack of trust in his receivers. Gilbert cannot throw the ball accurately.
While the defense held TCU to 3 points in the second half, Gilbert threw the Mustangs out of the game. 15-40 with 5 interceptions. That was the line Gilbert turned in. Sure, he was throwing a heavy ball in the rain -- the numerous drops and fumbles proved it was a factor. But it wasn't that the ball lacked zip. It's that he couldn't put the ball where it needed to be. After all the hype he received as a prep for the tools he had, accuracy has evaded him, and it has marginalized his career, not to mention the Mustangs' season.
Gilbert wasn't the only quarterback that struggled. Casey Pachall struggled to replicate the numbers he posted in non-monsoon weather, and completed only 10 of his 26 passes. But he didn't make the big mistakes: of his 16 incompletions, zero were interceptions. If anything, the weather amplified the discrepancy between the two passers and highlighted Gilbert's flaws. Pachall didn't carry the team, but he didn't bury them either.
Beyond the quarterback play, TCU gave SMU every chance to win the game. A botched field goal, a fumble at the one yard line, a sputtering offense and a tremendous effort from the SMU defense kept the 'Stangs alive. But even when gifted a golden opportunity at the TCU 1, the Mustangs failed to cash in. Trying just 1 run and three passes with one of the least accurate passers in Division I football, the underdog came up empty. And that about summed up the game.
Make no mistake, this game was about the failings of Garrett Gilbert. The rest of the season will be about whether he can improve two and a half years into a college career that was supposed to be so much more. And how long June Jones will let the Gilbert experiment go on. If it continues as it has thus far, both Jones and Gilbert could see once promising careers turn to ruin. After all, I hear Bobby Petrino's available.