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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Bennett discusses Texas Tech game

Jessie Henderson is a big reason the Mustangs are excited about the new kickoff rule.
John Schreiber
Jessie Henderson is a big reason the Mustangs are excited about the new kickoff rule.

Jessie Henderson is a big reason the Mustangs are excited about the new kickoff rule. (John Schreiber)

Coach Phil Bennett said the Texas Tech game is a big one for the Mustangs.

But it’s not an end-all game, either.

The coach’s comments came at his first regular press conference of the 2007 season. Bennett spent most of the session discussing final preparations for the season opener against the Red Raiders on Labor Day.

“We want to play well, we want to win,” Bennett said.

Two things gave Texas Tech advantages during last year’s meeting in Lubbock, according to Bennett. SMU failed to control the line of scrimmage when they had the ball, creating chaos in the backfield. The Mustangs also did poorly in the red zone and on third-down conversions – times in the game when they needed to be keyed in on certain plays that would have stopped Red Raider drives.

That combination created a lethal problem for SMU – no scoring and a defense that was methodically picked apart by Texas Tech’s air attack. The Mustangs lost the game 35-3.

If SMU had done better offensively, Bennett believes the Mustangs would have put more points on the board and helped the defense by keeping them off of the field.

“It could have been a much better game than it was,” he said.

Bennett said a good example of a team playing Texas Tech was UTEP. They kept pace with the Red Raiders on the scoreboard in a game last season and managed to force overtime before losing.

He wants the SMU offense to score just as often as Texas Tech. That is the best way to keep up with the Red Raiders he said, because their offense is going to put up points.

“I think Graham (Harrell) is probably the best quarterback we’ve seen back there,” Bennett said. “Anytime he’s back there, you’ve really got to respect what he does.”

Bennett wants to see his team execute plays properly and improve tackling. If SMU does that, he thinks they will do well against Texas Tech and better overall once conference play begins.

One aspect of the game he discussed in detail was kickoffs. A new rule requires teams to kick the ball off from the 30-yard line instead of the 35. SMU was the No. 1 team in kickoff return yardage last year under the old rule, and Bennett expects to have even more of an advantage this year.

He added that he always wants the ball to start the game unless there is some severe weather factor that could determine the outcome of the game. He wants the ball first because he does not want to play from behind if he has a choice.

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