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

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Is losing in the past for SMU?

Fans wonder if Jones can rescue the football program from losing
SMUs offensive and defensive squads face off in the Red and Blue game.
John Schreiber
SMU’s offensive and defensive squads face off in the Red and Blue game.

SMU’s offensive and defensive squads face off in the Red and Blue game. (John Schreiber)

SMU football fans had been anxiously anticipating Saturday’s Red and Blue Scrimmage for months -years, actually. And who can blame them? There hasn’t been this much excitement on the Hilltop since, well, before many can remember.

Saturday’s scrimmage was a chance for fans to get a first glimpse of next year’s squad and head coach June Jones, who will be paid a hero’s salary to save the program from indignity. But, for many SMU football enthusiasts, the last 20 years have taught them to guard optimism with caution.

“It was a terrible thing that happened,” said SMU alum Joe Abbey, referring to the penalties handed to the university by the NCAA for recruiting violations in the 1980s. The program has had only one winning season since the debacle.

Did Saturday’s scrimmage signify the beginning of the end of the plague that has stricken the program for so long?

Mike Hadju, a 1984 SMU graduate, thought so. He was impressed with the offense’s new look and said the Mustangs can return to the state of prominence they experienced while he was a student, when they won a national championship in 1981.

“The offense is going to be great, and I look forward to coming to all the games this year,” he said. “I really do think that June Jones is going to bring them back.”

Junior David Fleury, who was at the game to watch a couple of friends play, said the last couple of seasons have been frustrating, but he shares Hadju’s optimism.

“I thought [the scrimmage] was good,” he said. “I feel good about this season. I think, if not this year, definitely [the team will produce a winning season] the next year.”

The Mustangs gave fans some justification for their high expectations on Saturday, but at times showed that there is work left to be done.

SMU’s offense performed sensationally in seven-on-seven drills. Redshirt freshman quarterback Logan Turner completed one touchdown pass after another with impeccable accuracy. He floated a 45-yard pass into the outstretched arms of Aldrick Robinson for a touchdown on the first play of the drill scattered a handful of touchdown passes to other receivers.

The 11-on-11 scrimmage featured high-percentage screens, shovel passes and short patterns, rather than long bombs. Turner and fellow redshirt freshman Daniel Miller completed 15 of 20 passes combined, but there were no receptions of more than 25 yards.

After the scrimmage, Jones told fans to expect more home-run passes when the season starts in late August.

“It’s a very complicated offense,” said Hajdu. “It’ll be very tough to run out there on the field. It’s something that will require a lot of repetition, but the more repetition they do, the better they’ll get.”

“The offense was somewhat suspect,” said Fleury. “The offensive line didn’t really perform its best, but the defense played great.”

Junior Bryan McCann had a pair of interceptions in seven-on-seven drills, and the defense was impressive in its form tackling in the 11-on-11 scrimmage.

The Mustangs opened Saturday with a special teams situational drill. The ball was placed deep in the punting team’s territory, and a coach announced over the loudspeaker: “It’s fourth down. We’re up by two, and there’s 1:10 remaining.”

A fan sitting in the upper level cracked to his friends, “Up by two? When has that ever happened?”

Wisecracks are nothing new at SMU football games, but fans hope the 2008 edition of the Mustangs will put the pessimism to bed.

“[The last few seasons] have been pretty frustrating,” said Fleury. “They needed to make a few changes, and they made a huge one getting June.”

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