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

My quest to learn the musical instrument struck a chord much greater than the beautiful sound of a perfect stroke.
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Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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Mustangs confident heading into football season

Bennett, Pellerin and Sturdivant represent SMU at C-USA Media Blitz

Optimism and a sense of confidence were on display from all the schools at the Conference USA Media Blitz on Aug. 1. SMU was no different, with both its coach and players stating they expect to compete for a conference title and go to a bowl game.

“We competed for a championship last year and didn’t even realize it,” coach Phil Bennett said, still sporting a goatee from his summer vacation.

“Anything other than a bowl game is not acceptable,” senior wide receiver Reynaldo Pellerin said. “Before this year I never would have talked about a bowl game.”

Bennett spent a good part of the morning discussing the newfound stability at quarterback, with Justin Willis slotted in the starting position after his performance in spring practice.”I’ve had an easiness at quarterback that I’ve never had before,” Bennett said.

He said Willis has a better supporting cast than previous throwers, which should allow him to ease into the job. Senior wide receiver Reynaldo Pellerin said that Willis is about action, not talk. Pellerin said the only week Willis did not practice with him was when he helped out at the Manning’s Football Camp in July.

“Sometimes you have to be more patient with him because he’s so young, but he has a strong arm, is very mobile and throws a tight spiral,” said Pellerin. Bennett said that the biggest win last season was the 29-24 victory against Houston. He called the three-game win to end the year “character wins.”

“You have to learn to win, and we developed a chemistry during the season,” Bennett said.

This year’s schedule, which opens at Texas Tech, then features three games against teams in weaker conferences, is “tailored to the route we want to go this year,” according to senior safety Joe Sturdivant. He said a strong start hopefully will lead to bigger crowds later in the season at Ford Stadium.

The parity throughout the conference was mentioned by all of the head coaches, with Bennett saying SMU is positioned to win and be competitive in the western division.

“I think we’re a lot like Tulsa was last year.”

As for the opener at Tech, Bennett said he plans to give the team off the Friday, Saturday and Sunday beforehand, and then restart on that Monday. Bennett emphasized how he wanted to avoid draining his players before they hit the field.

“Our goal is to get better at practice -not merely survive it.”

Pellerin, whose first game was in Lubbock in 2003, says the Red Raiders “are beatable like everyone else.”

“We are ready to compete with whoever we play,” said Sturdivant.

SMU Notes

Bennett said he is still evaluating kickers. He said the starting job is between junior Thomas Morestead and incoming freshman Kellis Cunningham…Bennett said the only freshmen he might not redshirt are wide receiver Bryan McCann and kicker Cunningham….Sports Information Director Brad Sutton said promotional plans are still being finalized for SMU’s Halloween game against UAB.

C-USA Notes

Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo said the key to this season is how healthy his team is.

“I want to see us improve from day one-that’s our goal.”

The first game back in the Superdome for the Green Wave is against SMU, and Scelfo says he has no idea what to expect.

“Hopefully we can give our fans a three-hour break-there is still so much going on.”

He also thanked the SMU community for taking in the team after Hurricane Katrina.

“I don’t know if we could have made it if we hadn’t been taken in. We are indebted to SMU forever.”

Rice head coach Todd Graham raved about the numerous changes occurring with the Owls since his hiring in the off-season.

Rice has ripped out the Astroturf, removed the crown on the field and installed FieldTurf at Rice Stadium.

“Bricks and mortar doesn’t win games, but I want my players to be inspired.”

The offense will take a new look with new coordinator Major Applewhite, who will install a spread offense. Gone is the option attack under previous coach Ken Hatfield.

“We’re not going to out athlete most teams, so we are going to spread the field to give our players the best chance to win.”

UTEP head coach Mike Price says this season is an opportunity to shine nationally and compete for one of the Bowl Championship Series at-large births.

He said the poor end to last season, which included a 40-27 loss to SMU, has motivated his team throughout the off-season.

“Apparently we forgot to send all of the articles raving about Palmer to SMU, and they came out and got a great victory against us.”

He said his team is setting its goals high, and when asked if it were looking for payback against the Mustangs, said, “If you wanted to circle a game, that would be one.”

Defending C-USA champion Tulsa had a “solid spring practice,” according to head coach Steve Kragthorpe.

“You learn every year-after the 2003 season we gained an understanding of what it took to be successful; after 2004 we learned there was a fine line between victory and defeat; this year we need to understand what we did right and improve on it.”

Kragthope, who signed an extension through 2011 on Monday, said that any of the 12 teams have a legitimate chance to be league champion.

“The good players and good coaches make this league very balanced.

Houston head coach Art Briles said the key to this year for the Cougars is quarterback Kevin Kolb.

“He has more snaps than anyone else, and we have to take advantage of that to be successful.”

The Houston Athletic Department is pushing Kolb as a Heisman candidate, with glossy flyers available at the Houston table promoting his statistics and a Web site — kolbheismanwatch.com.

As for the team, Briles said the off-season was spent getting personnel set and focusing mentally. “We have the key ingredients of experience and knowledge, now we have to add attitude.”

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