Sept. 12, 2012
Setting The Scene
SMU continues its five-game stretch of facing teams from the Lone Star State by hosting old SWC rival Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 2:30 p.m. The game is the second of three consecutive home games for the Mustangs, who will also host TCU on September 29.
Zach Line puts the "run" in SMU's Run & Shoot. Line had 135 rushing yards at Baylor and now has 16 100-yard games in his career. He has totaled 3,102 yards for his career (4th among all active FBS players) and his 36 career rushing TDs rank third-most among active players, behind only Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Michigan's Denard Robinson.
The SMU defense forced a school-record 10 turnovers against SFA, including a Conference USA-record seven interceptions. The Mustangs returned two of the picks and one of the fumbles for scores. In addition, SMU blocked two field goal tries - one an NCAA-record-setter by Margus Hunt and another that was returned 56 yards for another touchdown.
Junior Kenneth Acker was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week and an honorable mention Jim Thorpe Defensive Back of the Week nominee after notching two interceptions and scoring two touchdowns - one on an interception return and one on a blocked field goal try - as SMU routed SFA, 52-0.
About The Aggies
After weather delayed their season opener, the Aggies opened their season and SEC play by hosting Florida at Kyle Field on Saturday. Despite outgaining UF, A&M fell 20-17 after holding a 17-10 halftime lead.
SMU and A&M, former Southwest Conference foes, have met 78 times, with the Aggies holding a 42-29-7 series edge. The two teams have met just twice since the SWC closed up shop in 1995, and SMU has not defeated A&M since 1984 (SMU 28, A&M 20). SMU did manage a 21-21 tie against then-No. 7 A&M in 1994 in the Alamodome in San Antonio.
June Jones is in his fifth season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 25-29 and his career mark is now 101-70. Jones led SMU to back-to-back Conference USA Western Division Championships in 2009 and 2010, and has led the Mustangs to three straight bowl berths. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the All-State Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego.
Kevin Sumlin is in his first season as coach of the Aggies. He came to A&M after four seasons as head coach at Houston, where he led UH to a 35-17 overall record and three bowl games, and is now 35-18 as a head coach.
Last Time Vs. A&M
COLLEGE STATION - Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael ran for two touchdowns apiece and Ryan Tannehill threw for two more scores to help No. 8 Texas A&M beat SMU 46-14 on Sept. 4, 2011.
The Aggies intercepted SMU quarterback Kyle Padron on SMU's first two possessions to jump out to a 14-0 lead.
SMU coach June Jones replaced Padron with backup J.J. McDermott after the early miscues and he helped the Mustangs cut it to 20-14 in the second quarter. But the Mustangs couldn't do much offensively after that and the Aggies scored 26 straight points the rest of the way to secure the win.
McDermott finished with 254 yards passing and a touchdown, but was sacked seven times. Zach Line ran for 128 yards and a score and 6-foot-8 defensive end Margus Hunt blocked two extra points for the Mustangs. Line had 101 yards rushing with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, but managed just 27 the rest of the way.
Run (Not Walk) The Line
Zach Line was named first team All-C-USA in both 2010 and 2011 and led the league in rushing both years. Last season, Line suffered a foot injury and missed the last three games of the season but still ranked seventh in the nation in rushing at 122.4 yards per game. He posted eight 100-yard rushing games in 10 games played and led C-USA with 17 rushing touchdowns.
Line opened 2012 with 135 rushing yards at Baylor, posting his 16th 100-yard game. Line has 3,102 yards for his career (5th at SMU and 4th among active players). He set a new school record by rushing for five TDs in the win over Northwestern State in 2011, and his 36 career rushing TDs are third all-time at SMU.
As a high school senior, Line held no FBS offers. That's when Bill Keenist, the Detroit Lions' Senior VP of Communications, decided to help. Keenist's son had played with Line at Oxford High School, and Keenist sent a DVD of Line's exploits to June Jones, a former coach for the Lions. Jones saw what he thought was a linebacker and recruited Line to SMU, but once Jones and the staff started slotting guys into positions, they moved Line to running back and it's safe to say he's there to stay.
With two 1,000+ yard seasons, Line is just the fifth player at SMU with multiple 1,000-yard seasons (Reggie Dupard (3), Eric Dickerson (2), Keylon Kincade (2), Alvin Maxson (2)).
Line is joined on the Mustang squad this season by his younger brother, freshman Prescott Line. The PARADE All-American was named "Mr. Football" in Michigan in 2011 and was a two-time state champion wrestler, but figures to back up his older brother in 2012.
SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert took 27 credit hours last spring so he could graduate from Texas and be immediately eligible at SMU.
A three-year starter in high school, Gilbert left Lake Travis as the state's all-time leader in passing yards (12,540) and was second in touchdown passes (138). He led his team to a 39-4 record and consecutive state titles.
The Gatorade National Player of the Year enrolled at Texas in 2009 and was thrust into the BCS Championship Game against No. 1 Alabama, replacing injured Colt McCoy after five plays. Gilbert threw touchdown passes of 44 and 28 yards to position the Longhorns for a comeback victory. Gilbert then started every game in 2010, passing for 2,744 yards and 10 touchdowns. Two games into the 2011 season, Gilbert suffered a season-ending shoulder injury (torn labrum) and was granted a medical redshirt. He then decided to transfer to the Hilltop.
Gilbert threw two TD passes and passed for 286 yards against Baylor, the second-highest total of his career (344 vs. Iowa State in 2010), and added another passing TD against SFA.
My Three `Sons
SMU's wide receiving corps is blessed with a trio of standouts in Darius Johnson, Jeremy Johnson and Der'rikk Thompson.
Darius has been named MVP in back-to-back bowl games - 2010 Armed Forces Bowl & 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl; Jeremy caught the game-winning TD in overtime at TCU in 2011 and Der'rikk is a deep threat with three of his four career TDs coming from 40-yards or more out.
Darius is a preseason first-team All-C-USA performer and Biletnikoff Award Watch List member in 2012 after wrapping up 2011 with a seven-catch, 120-yard, one-TD performance in SMU's BBVA Compass Bowl win over Pitt. He finished the year with 79 catches for 1,188 yards and eight TDs. He has 10 100-yard games in his career, third-best at SMU, and ranks in the top 10 in career TDs, catches and yards
Jeremy, a high school quarterback, played in 10 games in 2011 and caught 16 balls for 146 yards and a touchdown. He opened 2012 with a TD grab at Baylor.
Thompson, the cousin of former Mustang great Keylon Kincade, is a speedster who caught a 72-yard bomb against UCF in 2011 and started 2012 by catching a 40-yard TD pass at Baylor.
The Bruise Brothers
SMU defenders Ja'Gared Davis and Taylor Reed have been impact players since arriving on the Hilltop in 2009.
Reed, who enters 2012 on the Lombardi Award Watch List, was All-C-USA in 2011 and on the All-C-USA Freshman Team in 2009. He led SMU with 101 tackles last season, including 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. It marked the second straight season he led SMU in stops. Reed now has 312 career tackles, ranking fourth among all active FBS players.
Davis, who is on the Butkus Award Watch List, is a two-time All-Conference USA selection. He started all 13 games in 2011, notching 83 tackles, including a team-high 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording eight tackles, 2.5 for loss including 1.5 sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown against UTEP and later led the team with nine stops in the BBVA Compass Bowl win. Davis was huge in SMU's 52-0 win over SFA, notching nine tackles, a sack, 1.5 tackles for-loss and a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown. With 17.5 career sacks, Davis ranks fourth among all active players.
Both were named preseason All-C-USA in 2012 and were tabbed to Dave Campbell's All-Texas College Team.
Out Of Line
Last season, SMU boasted the nation's most experienced offensive line, finishing the year with a combined 221 starts on the roster and starting five seniors.
The 2012 roster tells a different story, though, as, entering the year, SMU OL returnees had combined for only 36 starts (McJunkin 26, Collins 9 & Free 1).
Redshirt freshman Taylor Lasecki starts at center and, after an injury to Ben Gottschalk in the opener, redshirt freshman Kris Weeks and true freshmen Seaver Myers and Sam Rice also saw time.
Prior to the 2009 season, head coach June Jones announced that a deserving student-athlete would be chosen to wear the number "23" on his jersey throughout the season to honor Jerry LeVias for his contributions to America, the sport of football and SMU.
LeVias was the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship in the Southwest Conference. At SMU, LeVias made athletic and academic All-America teams and, in 1966, contributed to the Mustangs' first SWC title in 18 years. He still holds an SMU record as a receiver with 213 yards in one game (N.C. State, 1968). He was a consensus All-American in 1968 and was chosen All-SWC in 1966, 1967 and 1968.
Chris Banjo wore the number for the first three seasons of the award, but when he graduated in 2012, sophomore Stephon Sanders earned the honor.
Sanders played in 12 games as a freshman, making five starts late in the year. He had 26 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and three sacks and notched a spectacular interception in the BBVA Compass Bowl win.
The Eastern Block
For SMU senior defensive end Margus Hunt, 2009 was his first year of playing football. His only previous football experience consisted of playing Madden NFL video games.
Hunt set an SMU single-season record and tied for second in NCAA history with seven blocked kicks (4 FG, 3 PAT) as a freshman.
The honorable mention All-C-USA end started 2010 by blocking field goal attempts against Texas Tech and Tulsa, and then blocked a PAT in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Hunt opened 2011 on a tear - blocking a pair of PATs at Texas A&M, a field goal against UTEP and another field goal against Northwestern State - and earned honorable mention All-C-USA honors. He wrapped up the season with a dominant performance in the BBVA Compass Bowl win, racking up three sacks and five total tackles.
This season, Hunt broke the NCAA career record when he blocked his ninth career FGA in SMU's 52-0 win over SFA in week two.
He now has 15 career blocked kicks (9 FGs, 6 PATs), which ranks third in NCAA history. The six career blocked PATs tie for second in the NCAA Record Book.
Hunt was voted DFW's Top Athlete in a DallasNews.com poll this summer and enters 2012 on the Watch Lists for both the Hendricks and Lombardi Awards. He was named the No. 1 athletic "freak" in college football by CBSSports.com and was named preseason All-Conference USA by several outlets.
Hunt won gold medals in both the shot put and the discus at the 2006 World Junior Championships, becoming the first athlete ever to win a shot/discus gold medal double.
WWWe WWWere First
SMU offers live video streaming of its home football games. While we're not the first school to do so, SMU has always been on the cutting edge of the world wide web. SMU partnered with Broadcast.com to broadcast the first college football game over the Internet on Sept. 2, 1995 (SMU 17, Arkansas 14).
Former record-setting Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang is in his first season as SMU's Offensive Graduate Assistant, where he helps tutor the Mustang quarterbacks. Chang has been reunited with June Jones and quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison on the Hilltop after spending five years at Hawaii with the coaching tandem.
At UH, Chang was a four-time All-WAC selection, setting NCAA record by completing 1,388 of 2,436 passes (57.0 percent) for 17,072 yards. He also threw for 117 touchdowns and was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2004.
SMU has made over $3 million in Ford Stadium improvements since the summer of 2011, including upgrades to the football locker room and team meeting rooms, a new playing surface and a new lighting system.
The renovations include a new team meeting room with stadium-style seating as well as renovated positional meeting rooms. Changes to the locker room included the creation of a new team lounge, as well as new lockers, updated graphics and audio/visual equipment.
SMU also installed a state-of-the-art Mondoturf 3NX thermo-bonded ecofill artificial turf system. The Mondoturf field is manufactured by Mondo, the global leader in the sports flooring market.
SMU contacted Musco Sports Lighting last September when it became apparent that glare from the existing lighting system was impacting the play of the Mustangs. With only 19 days before a home game, the Musco design team added new Musco Green Generation luminaires to the stadium's east and west sides, turning off some of the old luminaires located in the corners and re-aiming others. This boosted existing light levels, provided more uniform light and reduced on-field glare for the players.
The second phase started after football season, when contractors replaced the existing 400 luminaires with Musco's Light-Structure Green lighting system. The new system reduced the number of luminaires to 224 and produced lighting that met NCAA national broadcast standards. With the new energy-efficient system in place, SMU has seen a near 50% reduction in energy consumption and saved more than 293 metric tons of CO2 from entering the environment.