Mustangs Set To Battle Bulls On Saturday
Nov. 21, 2013
SMU Mustangs (4-5, 3-2 American)
at USF Bulls (2-7, 2-3 American)
Saturday, November 23, 2013
6 p.m. CT
Raymond James Stadium (65,000)
ESPN3/SMU Radio Network/KLIF 570
Setting The Scene
SMU continues its quest for a fifth-straight bowl berth as the Mustangs travel to Tampa to take on USF in a 6 p.m. CT American Athletic Conference game at Raymond James Stadium.
The game will mark the first of two straight games played in NFL stadiums for SMU, as the Mustangs play Houston at Reliant Stadium on Black Friday, Nov. 29.
SMU QB Garrett Gilbert leads the nation in total offense (405.7 ypg) - a figure better than 58 teams in the FBS. Gilbert ranks second in the nation in completions per game (35.1) and third in passing yards (376.7 ypg). On the year, Gilbert has accounted for 27 of SMU's 31 TDs.
Over his last five games, Gilbert is averaging 459 yards of total offense and 420 passing yards, with 17 TDs and only one interception, and has been named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week three times. He has thrown for 300+-yards in five straight games and is riding a six-game streak of multiple TD passes.
Mustang receivers Jeremy Johnson and Darius Joseph are third and fourth in catches per game nationally, respectively, and all four starting Mustang receivers have at least one 100-yard game in 2013 . At Cincinnati, three SMU receivers - Joseph, Johnson & Keenan Holman - went over the 100-yard mark, marking the first time that SMU had three 100-yard receivers in one game.
SMU LB Randall Joyner leads the Mustangs with 74 stops on the year despite missing two games with an injury. He ranks second in The American and 11th nationally with 10.6 tackles per game and leads the league and ranks seventh in the nation in forced fumbles.
After finishing 2012 with a +9 turnover margin (10th in the nation), SMU has struggled with turnovers in 2013 and is -5 through eight games (98th nationally). The Mustangs have fared better of late, rating +5 over the last two games, forcing five turnovers, while not turning the ball over once.
Four Mustangs have been on award watch lists - Kenneth Acker (Thorpe), Jeremy Johnson (Biletnikoff & Earl Campbell Tyler Rose), Taylor Lasecki (Rimington) and Mike Loftus (Ray Guy) - and kicker Chase Hover was named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.
About The Bulls
While USF is just 2-7, the Bulls do boast a solid defense, ranking 31st nationally in total defense and allowing just 59 passing yards last week to Memphis. WR Andre Davis has been a bright spot on offense, hauling in seven receptions for 110 yards against Memphis, marking his second straight 100-yard game.
Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between the two schools.
June Jones is in his sixth season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 35-39 and his career mark is now 111-80. Jones led SMU to back-to-back Conference USA Western Division Co-Championships in 2009 and 2010, and has led the Mustangs to four straight bowl berths. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the Allstate 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.
Willie Taggart is in his first season at USF, arriving in Tampa after three seasons at Western Kentucky, where he took over a WKU program that had lost the last 20 games before he took over. Taggart turned the program around and posted back-to-back winning seasons and the program's first-ever bowl appearance.
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