The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Mustangs hope to be savvy sophomores in conference play


When a university moves into a new conference, filled to the brim with stiff competition, it is not unusual to see a program take a season or two to acclimate itself to the heightened level of play.

The 2013 season was certainly disappointing for the SMU Mustangs, as it failed to meet the team’s lofty expectations.

There was a feeling-out process underlying the season, especially during conference play, as SMU faced several teams for the first time in program history.

However, the inaugural year, and all the other first-time things, are behind them entering 2014, and there is no doubt that SMU head coach June Jones and his Mustangs are determined to make some noise in the American Athletic Conference (AAC).

It is not going to be an easy task. The 2014 version of SMU will need to play with the same heart as the previous incarnation but with more ferocity and with a stronger foundation of mental strength.

Just because the Mustangs have one year of experience in the AAC doesn’t make the teams they will face any less tough.

Furthermore, the road leading to conference play is no cake walk. With teams like Baylor, University of North Texas, A&M; and TCU to start the season, SMU will need to be firing on all cylinders from the very beginning if they hope to be above .500 on Oct. 4 when they kick off AAC action against East Carolina University.

The Mustangs will welcome back 13 starters from the 2013 season, but will need to replace 11 players who have left behind starting jobs.

Perhaps two of the most obvious holes were left by QB Garrett Gilbert who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams with the 214th pick in the sixth round, and WR Jeremy Johnson who recently signed as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots.

Johnson caught 112 passes for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns for SMU in 2013 as Gilbert’s obvious number one target.

However, the Mustangs have a possible replacement in sophomore wide receiver Darius Joseph. In his first season as a Mustang, Joseph tallied 103 receptions, 808 yards and five touchdowns. With Johnson gone, it seems reasonable that Joseph would be able to, at the very least, replicate, if not improve, last season’s production.

In regards to QB, the situation isn’t as cut and dry. There doesn’t appear to be a clear cut heir to Gilbert’s spot at the helm. However, one would imagine that sophomore transfer Matt Davis will win the job. That’s not a knock on QB Neal Burcham, SMU’s heir apparent at the moment, Davis simply appears to possess a wider range of skills.

Last season, Burcham appeared in four games and started the final two of the season in place of injured Gilbert.

Burcham’s 556 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions for 2013 are less than impressive.

If he were to win the starting job in 2014, it would be because he earned it and because Jones believes that he has what it takes to improve on his performances late last season.

All things considered, it is a new season and a new team with a fresh start in 2014.

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