The Cougars committed nine turnovers and Piland left in the first half with a concussion as SMU delivered a thorough 72-42 whipping at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
SMU returned three interceptions for touchdowns, a fumble on a kickoff for another and Garrett Gilbert threw a career-high four touchdowns as the Cougars allowed the most points in their 66-year history.Yeah, it's a bit difficult to win when you make mistakes like that.
The Mustangs scored 44 points off turnovers.
This game, in fact, was easily the worst of the season, even taking the disaster against Texas State into account. Everything that could go wrong for the Cougars did. Aside from the nine turnovers (six interceptions and three special teams fumbles) and quarterback David Piland's concussion (which allowed backups Bram Kohlhausen and Crawford Jones to see meaningful minutes for the first time this season), the Cougars committed 9 penalties for 73 yards. And while the defense was constantly being put in a tough position on account of the multiple offensive and special teams turnovers, they also yielded scoring drives of 75, 92, 75 and 75 yards.
So much for that improvement the team had been showing over the course of the last three games. The special teams miscues are especially troubling, considering that Tony Levine was special teams coordinator prior to being promoted to head coach. But there's plenty of blame to go around; this loss was truly a team effort.
If there were positives, Charles Sims accounted for four touchdowns, Daniel Spencer and Deontay Greenberry had a few nice catches, and Crawford Jones threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Forty-two points and 560 yards are good enough to win on most nights.
There was nothing normal about Thursday.
"We've got to get things corrected," Levine said. "Some of it is technique, some of it is coaching and some of it is personnel. We'll figure it out when we get back to practice."If I'd have to choose, I'd say the problem lies mostly with the coaching. This team was simply unprepared to play.
Next up for the 3-4 Coogs is Texas-El Paso at home. No word yet on Piland's availability for that game.