SMU junior quarterback Tanner Mordecai leads the nation this season with 20 passing touchdowns, a statistic in line with the pass-happy offensive philosophy of Mustangs coach Sonny Dykes.
But what SMU did last weekend against rival TCU should make defensive coordinators across the American Athletic Conference shudder. The Mustangs pounded out 350 rushing yards on 52 attempts in their 42-34 victory, passing the ball just eight times in the second half.
Ulysses Bentley IV (20 carries, 153 yards, one TD) and Tre Siggers (18 carries, 110 yards) surpassed 100 yards rushing for the Mustangs (4-0), who will host South Florida (1-3) on Saturday in the teams' AAC opener.
"I think everybody was excited and had a lot of confidence about what we were able to do running the football," Dykes said. "There's nothing that's more demoralizing to a football team than when someone can line up and just run right at them.
"We've talked about this since I got here, about running the football when everybody in the stadium knows you're going to do it, and that's hard to do. To me, that was what was pretty special about it."
That SMU has developed a balanced offensive attack certainly has made others take notice.
"I think this will be the most talented offense that we've played to this point after watching them on video," Bulls coach Jeff Scott said. "It'll be a big-time challenge for us."
The Bulls have grown accustomed to stiff challenges through an unforgiving non-conference schedule. USF rallied from a 21-point, first-quarter deficit last weekend against No. 15 BYU before falling 35-27, but might have discovered a quarterback.
Freshman Timmy McClain engineered five scoring drives over the final six possessions to lift the Bulls back into contention, with an unsuccessful onside kick in the fourth quarter finally stalling momentum.
South Florida incrementally has improved its results against quality competition, rebounding from a 45-point, season-opening loss to North Carolina State to a 22-point setback against Florida before making the Cougars sweat out the final minutes of their hard-earned win.
"I told the players that obviously we're not happy with our record, but we also need to keep some perspective," Scott said. "We're the only team that's played three teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25. We've played the most difficult four-game schedule of any team in the country coming off a season where we won one game. That's as much adversity as you can have."
--Field Level Media
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