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


Defense, turnovers could be making a comeback

Let’s take a trip, you and me, in my time machine.

Let’s go back to Sept. 8, 2012; a day when the Mustangs presented the Hilltop with one of their most dominating defensive performances of the year- shutting out the SFA Lumberjacks 52-0.

While the score is impressive on its own, let’s add to it the fact that SFA outgained SMU by 138 total yards, had fewer penalties and had a better third down conversion rate.

SMU was able to demolish SFA by such a large margin, because they forced 10 turnovers.

On the final play of the first half, former Mustang Kenneth Acker returned a blocked field goal attempt 56 yards for
a touchdown.

Acker struck again in the fourth quarter, when he returned an interception 77 yards for a second defensive score.

At the end of the night, SMU made seven interceptions and recovered two fumbles. One of those fumbles also went for a score.

The Mustangs also set the record for most interception return yards in program history, with 232.

The year 2012 was a great one for SMU defense; the Mustangs posted two shutouts, tied and NCAA season record for pick sixes, tied for third in the country in total takeaways and tied for second in fumble recoveries for touchdowns.

If you can remember, 2012 saw SMU finish 7-6 (5-3 in C-USA) and demolish Fresno State 43-10 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

In 2012 SMU was one of the best at taking away the ball. It was a different story in 2013 – the Mustangs posted a minus seven turnover differential.

After such a big drop off by the defense, as far as turnovers are concerned, defensive coordinator Tom Mason has put an emphasis on taking away the ball.

“The main thing is getting turnovers,” junior safety Shakiel Randolph said. “I feel that last year we didn’t get as many turnovers as we should have to help the offense and stop [other offenses].”

Whenever I think of dominating defenses that force a lot of turnovers, there are a couple components that are absolutely necessary for the unit to have.

One of those is a defensive line that can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

In a 3-4 scheme, that responsibility also falls onto the linebackers.

“This year we have a great [front seven] that is going to put pressure on the quarterback and help us make a lot of interceptions” sophomore defensive back Ajee Montes said.

A front seven that really knows how to get after a quarterback can help mask a lot of holes in the secondary.

The beautiful thing about SMU’s defense, their secondary might be their strength. Mason has a number of quality safeties he can roll out with Darrion Richardson, Hayden Greenbauer, Randolph and AJ Justice.

Richardson is a ball hawk and is always making plays, while Randolph has great athleticism and speed that allows him to essentially shut down his side of the field.

At cornerback, Mason has a Horace Richardson, JR Richardson, Ajee Montes and Jesse Montgomery – all four are super athletic and have excellent coverage skills.

Sophomore Horace Richardson and junior JR Richardson have already proven to be solid corners on the outside, while Montes has been able to lock down slot receivers from the nickel spot.

The “new comer” to the group is redshirt first-year Montgomery.

At six feet three inches tall and the ability to jump out of the building, Montgomery makes it hard for receivers to get open.
Mason’s group looks good and he has a lot of depth at every position, which is very important.

Not only are there plenty of backups, but also the drop off from starter to reserve isn’t that great.

This will allow Mason to constantly pump fresh legs onto the field.

Having fresh legs benefits everyone, but most importantly, it helps the defensive line.

If you can have fresh guys in the trenches, and those guys aren’t terrible your defense will be able to tire out opposing offenses, rather than the other way around.

I know it is something Dallas hasn’t been used to in some time, but defense may be making a comeback and a turnover happy Mustang squad may be the ones leading the charge.

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