To get the inside scoop on SMU, we went to the expert on Mustang football -- Sam
Erwin of PonyPride.com -- with questions
about SMU and Friday's game in Dallas.
SMU graduated a standout on each side of the ball -- Zach Line at running back
and Margus Hunt on the defensive line. Which departure will be felt more by the
Mustangs this season and why? SE: "Without a question it's Margus Hunt. At running back they
will come back with transfer Traylon Shead who has looked very good
this fall. On the defensive line, however, there hasn't been anyone that has
separated themselves from the pack. SMU has good players at the position, they
just don't have a star like Hunt.
"To add to that, Hunt also set all kinds of records blocking field goals and
PATs in his career at SMU. That's another area in which the Mustangs will miss
the departed defensive lineman dearly. So all in all, Hunt will be missed more."
Garrett Gilbert didn't seem to perform up to expectations last year. Is
there reason to anticipate improvement out of him or, at this point, is it more
a case of 'he is who he is'? SE: "This is a hard question to answer because the knock on
Gilbert that you hear most frequently is that he can't take what he does on the
practice field into games. Saying that, I do think that there is reason to
expect him to take steps this season and start to live up to expectations.
"He has improved his accuracy on the deep ball, something that the staff really
wanted him to work on. To add to that, Gilbert looks a lot more comfortable in
the system this season. He goes through his progressions and makes quick
decisions with the ball .
"I will add that in fairness a lot of the struggles that Gilbert had early in
the year revolved around receivers dropping passes. That hasn't shown to be a
problem this fall and that will also help the senior quarterback."
What do you think is SMU's biggest advantage in this matchup? Biggest
disadvantage? SE: "The biggest advantage in my eyes would the be the
defensive back field for SMU. For the first time in recent memory they have 2-3
guys at each position that have the talent to be starters. Especially against a
team like Texas Tech who can put a ton receivers on the field at one time, have
a ton of quality defensive backs helps.
"The biggest disadvantage would be the offensive line. I say this mostly because
they are unproven. They have three main guys on the line who look very strong
but the other two spots are really a question mark. I'm not saying that they
won't be good this season, but until they prove it on the field I can't help but
see it as a disadvantage."
Has June Jones ateaued on the Hilltop? SESE: "You would hope not. I think that it's fair to question
certain things surrounding the development of the team since coach Jones took
over. At the same time, I think that people are quick to forget exactly where
the program was at before he came in. I know a lot of Mustang fans still
remember back-to-back 1-11 seasons.
"If you're looking for positives then look no further than the past two
recruiting classes. The freshmen and sophomores on campus are all extremely
athletic and are arguably some of the best players on campus. Because of that, I
will say no, I don't think that coach Jones has plateaued at SMU."
How do you see Friday's game playing out? SE: "I think that no matter what it's going to be a close game.
With Hal Mumme on campus the defense is already going against offensive
that has a similar look to what Tech traditionally has been. Kliff
Kingsbury is not new to this staff, either. They had to go against him when
he was at Houston, when he was at Texas A&M and now that he's at Texas Tech.
"I actually have picked SMU to lose this one for a while now but I'm starting to
get hope that they can pull off the upset. The key will be if the players can
come out in the first game, with a new offensive system, and click on all
cylinders. If the offensive line is giving Gilbert at least three seconds to
throw the ball and the defense making a big play or two then I think the
Mustangs will come away with a victory."