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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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Defense gets ready to step up; conditioning sets the tone

SMU+defensive+cordinator+Tom+Mason%2C+left%2C+works+with+the+defensive+line+during+practice.
Michael Danser/The Daily Campus
SMU defensive cordinator Tom Mason, left, works with the defensive line during practice.

SMU defensive cordinator Tom Mason, left, works with the defensive line during practice. (Michael Danser/The Daily Campus)

Sprints, strength training, weight lifting, stretching and plyometrics are only a few of the many pains that the Mustangs have endured this off-season.
 

After SMU went up 17-0 in the first quarter in Honolulu, most of Pony Nation was celebrating with their families. They were thrilled to have ended the season on such a high note but were not prepared for the media exposure they would get.
 

Instead of celebrating, they have been watching films, working out and conditioning themselves mentally and physically to ensure that they are the best team in C-USA. They are a team, which for the first time in 25 years, will actually have some pressure to perform – really perform – this season.
 

For Mustang veterans like Marquis Frazier and Taylor Thompson, the end of the 2009 season, however victorious it was, meant only one thing: the 2010 season was nine short months away from kicking off.
 

With 45 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks in the 2009 season, Junior Defensive End Marquis Frazier has seen his share of the field and has learned a lot in the past year since the switch from the 4-3 to 3-4 defensive spread. This switch is good for the smaller, more agile ends, but instead of adapting to a smaller weight, he has pushed for more.
 

This offseason, pushing himself to the limits with his strength training, conditioning and flexibility have made Frazier feel like a “whole new player.” He says he has “come faster and more prepared,” and on top of that, he’s bigger.
 

The 6-foot-3 inch defensive end, up 10 pounds from last season, and gained 30 pounds on his bench press, putting him at around 435 pounds. He also says he has been working every day on his flexibility and agility to get himself and his team ready for the upcoming season.
 

The defense, led by Frazier and Thompson, held the number one rank, rushing Nevada to four yards per rush, with a season-low 137 rush yards and completing only four of 12 third down conversions.
 

With leaders stepping in both offensively and defensively, they continue to preach the program to younger players that will need to step up. On defense, 5-foot-6 inch, 189-pound sophomore strong safety Ryan Smith and 321-pound true freshman reserve nose guard Mike O’Quinn must be prepared to step in and step up if they are called.
After the switch of quarterback from Bo Levi Mitchell to current Starter Kyle Padron, the offense has continuously shown its ability to score.
 

What’s left for SMU to become the Conference USA powerhouse it has the potential to be is for the defense to make their presence known. After all, going 1-11 in 2008 and having the largest win increase in FBS to pull off 8-5 is pretty tricky. However, in order to no longer have the element of surprise and to consistently win this year, they will have to do more.
 

Though they ranked 88th against the run in 2009 and return only seven starters this season, the Mustangs have put in the work. The season begins tipping off against Texas Tech, entering what’s coming to be known as “the Tuberville Era,” and rivals TCU and Houston looking strong. For the 2010 Mustangs to succeed, the defense must prove to be a force worth reckoning with.

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