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

Instagram

SMU looks to come out firing in Red and Blue game

SMU head football coach June Jones addresses the media on Signing Day 2008.
John Schreiber
SMU head football coach June Jones addresses the media on Signing Day 2008.

SMU head football coach June Jones addresses the media on Signing Day 2008. (John Schreiber)

It’s time to bring the Wild West back to the Hilltop.

Guns will be blazing and the Mustangs will be racing when the team unveils new head coach June Jones’ shootout-style offense on Saturday in the Red and Blue Scrimmage. Jones came to SMU from the University of Hawaii, where he guided the Warriors to a Bowl Championship Series game last fall.

“We’re excited that this caliber of coach has come to SMU,” junior wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said of Jones, who replaced Phil Bennett on Jan. 7 and will be compensated approximately $2 million per season during the next five years. “Our confidence level is so high.”

Jones has brought a much-needed positive attitude and fresh enthusiasm to the team, which players and coaches hope will translate into a successful scrimmage.

“I’m extremely excited [for Saturday’s scrimmage],” said redshirt senior offensive lineman Tommy Poynter. “We’re really going to give the student body a treat and give them a preview of how things are really going to be next year.”

Offensive players are especially excited to learn Jones’ pass-happy style of offense after enduring a disastrous 1-11 season last fall. Jones is known for spreading it out and chucking the ball across the field, which carried Hawaii to a 12-0 regular season last year. Colt Brennan, the quarterback who orchestrated the nearly flawless attack, finished third in Heisman balloting.

“I’m very excited about next year,” said Sanders, who said that the team is still putting the pieces of Jones’ offense together.

If the team runs Jones’ offense efficiently, Sanders will reap the benefits. Three Hawaii wide receivers are expected to be taken in April’s NFL draft. All of them caught more than 1,000 yards in passes and more than 10 touchdowns last season.

Under Jones’ guidance, Hawaii led the country in scoring last season at 43.4 points per contest. SMU, on the other hand, was halfway down the Division I ladder, ranking 55th (28.3) out of 120 teams.

“Our mindset is totally different than last year or any other year that I’ve been here,” said Sanders.

Players said they also have noticed a major improvement in the defense after a dismal season last year. The Mustangs finished third-to-last in Division I in scoring defense, allowing 39.8 points. They allowed 28 points or more in 11 of 12 games.

“The defense is a lot faster [this spring],” said Poynter. “This defense has been a lot more explosive, and I’m looking forward to having them as an asset next year.”

Jones, however, has suspended safety Bryce Hudman, the team’s leading tackler last season, along with quarterback Justin Willis, for spring practice after they violated team policy. The pair is expected to rejoin the team before next season.

Jones’ disciplinary style should be no surprise to the Mustangs. He was known for the same tactics at Hawaii. Willis and Hudman, team leaders on offense and defense, are early victims of Jones’ short-leash policy, but the rest of the squad has accepted its leader’s stringent policies.

“[The coaching staff] brought a whole different attitude,” said Sanders. “They treat us like grown men and expect us to be accountable … [Willis and Hudman] are working hard right now, and they’ll be back soon to practice with us.”

Another thing to watch in Saturday’s scrimmage is pregame rituals.

At Hawaii, Jones’ team became famous for performing the haka dance, in which players would gather before each game and chant in a Polynesian call to battle.

Do the Mustangs have any pregame surprises for the fans on Saturday?

“I guess y’all will just have to come out and watch,” said Poynter.

One thing is certain; you will see SMU’s age-old pregame tradition of running Peruna onto the field. But perhaps some new traditions are on the horizon – maybe some winning ones. We’ll see.

More to Discover