SMU vs. Texas A&M: Mustangs Who Stood Out

Last Saturday the Southern Methodist University Mustangs took on the Texas A&M University Aggies, and the 58-6 final score pretty much tells the story of the A&M victory. The SMU defense displayed some life during A&M’s first couple drives holding the Aggies to a field goal on the first series while SMU junior defensive back Shakiel Randolph intercepted A&M quarterback Kenny Hill’s pass during the second. But, it was down hill after that for the Ponies as their offense could not sustain drives thus leaving the SMU defense on the field too long while on the way to yielding 663 total yards. The game was a tough one for the Mustangs faithful to watch, but there were some players who stood out with their play.

The first player to shine was the aforementioned defensive back Shakiel Randolph. Randolph made an outstanding play to snag A&M QB Kenny Hill’s pass early in the first quarter giving him the dubious distinction of being the first defender to intercept Hill in his career. His interception was a good play, but it’s the fact that due to injuries to SMU’s cornerbacks, Shakiel was converted to CB whereas his natural position is that of safety. Randolph is a big man standing 6’4” and his long arms, speed, and elite leaping ability allow him to disrupt receivers. Shakiel made another great play when he broke up a pass intended for Aggies wide receiver Frank Iheanacho from quarterback Kyle Allen in the fourth quarter. Randolph had perfect coverage against Iheanacho and forced the Aggies to attempt a field goal.

Boulevarding is a time honored tradition at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Mandatory Credit - Matt Thornton Dallas Entertainment Journal

Boulevarding at Southern Methodist University versus Texas A&M University at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Mandatory Credit – Matt Thornton Dallas Entertainment Journal

Another guy who stood out during the game was SMU junior quarterback Garrett Krstich. Krstich began the season as the Mustang’s fourth string quarterback, but he did not play that way on Saturday. His 137 passing and 33 rushing yards aside, Garrett was as poised behind an offensive line which gave up 8 sacks as a quarterback under extreme duress could be. He led the Ponies on their longest drive of the year going 53 yards on 15 plays, which was capped off by kicker Cody Rademacher’s 29-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Krstich flashed some maneuverability outside the pocket and was fearless lowering his shoulder and taking on defenders during a couple of his rushing attempts. But, his accuracy and arm strength were what really impressed. With roughly 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Garrett showed his passing prowess with a beautiful back shoulder completion to freshman Courtland Sutton who fought through pass interference to make the 20-yard catch. Krstich had great touch and efficiency and did not throw a single interception.

Finally, the third Mustang to impress was senior linebacker Stephon Sanders who was all over the field netting 16 combined tackles. The 6-foot-3 250 pound Sanders has great speed and is a sure wrap-up tackler who also plays with an edge. Stephon’s power was on full display during one play with 1:44 left in the first quarter when the big linebacker broke through up the middle of the Aggie’s offensive line and delivered a crushing hit on A&M QB Kenny Hill who was visibly dazed after the hit. Sanders had an outstanding junior season and it looks like he could continue his upward trajectory.

The SMU Mustangs have had a rough start to their 2014 football season, but it was apparent that in the middle of a lop-sided loss, the young men maintained discipline and class. Some teams during a 58-6 loss would simply roll over and/or lose their heads, but the Mustangs fought until the end and were visibly encouraging each other. It’s unknown how the rest of the year will turn out for SMU, but with the attitude and fight they showed in the midst of great adversity, the Mustang faithful have to be proud of their team’s conduct.  SMU next plays host to Texas Christian University for the “Battle for the Iron Skillet” presented by PlainsCapital Bank at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Saturday September 27th in the 94th meeting of the rival universities.

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