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Vince Grippi’s Keys to the WSU Game

What went right

The first half was the best WSU has played in some time. The offense moved the ball, putting together two long drives and 150 yards. The defense gave up a big play, but sacked Kyle Padron twice and forced four punts. “We talked about the second half of last week’s game, we came out and built up some swagger and confidence,” said co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball. “We tried to build on that.” And the special teams scored.

What went wrong

After a decent first half, Washington Sate came out of the locker room without any fire. “We just turned it down a little bit,” said Hallston Higgins. “If we could have gotten a score or a stop right off the bat we could have turned things up. But we let those opportunities go.” The defense gave up a long drive and the offense turned stagnant, gaining just 29 yards on eight plays. And SMU scored three consecutive touchdowns.

Turning point

The SMU offense took its first possession of the ball in the second half at its 27-yard line. A 7-yard pass was followed by two false starts and a second-down 6-yard completion. That made it third-and-7. The offensive line gave Padron time and he found Darius Johnson for 13 yards and a first down. Nine plays later the drive ended on Padron’s quick slant to Johnson from 10 yards out, SMU had a 21-14 lead.

Difference maker

Padron took over the SMU offense late last year and led the Mustangs to a bowl win. Saturday he showed how, taking all the blows WSU’s front could deliver – he was sacked four times – and completing 19 of 34 passes for 280 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He also rushed for 32 yards and a TD.

“I thought Kyle did a lot of good things today,” said SMU coach June Jones. “I thought he ran around and made things happen.”

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