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


Mustangs travel to Tulsa with hopes of winning season

The Mustangs’ chance at a winning season hangs in the balance this Saturday, as they head to Tulsa to take on a hot Golden Hurricane squad. SMU is coming off a sloppy, turnover-filled performance that resulted in a 24-17 loss to ECU. The Mustangs sit at 2-5 with just four games to play, meaning they must win all to finish above .500. Tulsa (4-3, 3-1 C-USA) has won three out of its last four games and sits atop the C-USA Western Division. Despite his team’s success, Tulsa Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe is weary of the Mustangs. “We have to stay focused and do everything that we can this week to prepare ourselves to face what I think is a very talented and well-coached SMU team,” he said.

Key Match-Up

Tulsa’s Ashlan Davis vs. SMUs Kick Coverage

Turns out the only person who can stop the return dynamo from Mesquite is Ashlan Davis himself. The pre-season All-American selection has played in only five games this year, as he was suspended by Coach Kragthorpe for the Oklahoma and North Texas games because of conduct detrimental to the team. Davis is lightning in the bottle, as evidenced by last week’s 96-yard return for touchdown, giving the former JUCO transfer six for his career. In just about a year and a half, Davis has already tied the NCAA career kickoff returns for touchdown record to go along with his single season record of five returns for touchdowns he set last season. Davis is not the fastest person in the world, but he does have the uncanny knack to find the hole and has a shiftiness that can make people look ridiculous. Teams have tried many different ways to stop him, but the safest might be just to kick it out of bounds, because otherwise it could end up in your end zone.

SMU will surely employ a number of different options to contain Davis, including squib and pop-up kicks, but the best way to contain Davis may have already occurred, as the Mustangs have put many defensive starters on the kick coverage team already. By putting their best athletes on the unit, the Ponies can hopefully counter Davis’ talent level. Also, Chris McMurtray has kicked the ball very deep this year, with 50 percent of his kickoffs leading to touchbacks. Davis will test the envelope on kickoffs that land in the end zone, but that only gives the Ponies more time to get down the field.


Tulsa’s Nick Graham

The Tulsa defense is fourth nationally in interceptions with 12 and total turnovers with 19. This is in part because of the outstanding play of its junior cornerback, Nick Graham. Graham is second in the entire nation, with five interceptions to key a Tulsa pass defense that is giving up only 189 yards per game and also ranks fourth nationally. The Oklahoma City native makes up for his slight build, 5-feet-10-inches and 185 pounds, with speed and an instinct for the football. Graham is doing his best to single-handedly dismiss the notion that cornerbacks were receivers who couldn’t catch by having only three pass break-ups on the year, meaning that if Graham’s near the football, he is holding on to it.

SMU’s DeMyron Martin

This week, Martin is an X-Factor, because last week, for as good a game as he had, he also hindered the Mustangs. Martin ran the ball for 129 yards and a touchdown on just 22 carries with a number of runs that displayed his unique blend of power and elusiveness. Martin also had a pair of fumbles that were costly to the Mustangs, as one led to an ECU score and another came when the Mustangs had driven inside the red zone. Martin recovered, but it limited the drive to a field goal when a touchdown would have been huge. Martin has been the Mustangs’ most consistent runner this season and without the turnovers would have had an absolutely spectacular game last Saturday. The Tulsa defense has shown itself to be susceptible to the run, as three running backs have run for over 200 yards against the Hurricane, and hopefully, Martin can take advantage.

Inside the Hurricane

Run of the Mills

Most teams use tight ends as a security blanket, someone to turn to when the primary receiver is covered. Tulsa is not most teams, and Garrett Mills is no ordinary tight end. The senior from Tulsa was named to the “Sports Illustrated” mid-season All-American team after catching 50 passes for 638 yards and five touchdowns already this season. He leads all tight ends nationally in each of those categories, and he isn’t doing it against inferior opponents, as he had the best day of his career at then 18th ranked Oklahoma with 13 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. Mills has caught passes in 34 consecutive games, which is the longest current streak among tight ends and eighth nationally among all receivers. What makes the Tulsa native special is his toughness, as he is slightly smaller then most players at his position, but that doesn’t stop Mills from roaming the middle of the football field. Mills’ speed also causes matchup problems for the opposition, as linebacker’s and even some safeties can’t match the athleticism of Mills.

Inside the Mustangs

Turn the Page

The performance against the Pirates of East Carolina showcased what has been a recurring trend for the Mustangs: turning over the football. In the Mustangs five losses, they have turned the ball over 13 times against only two total in their wins. In last week’s game, the ‘Stangs had five giveaways, including four interceptions by Jerad Romo, who was disappointed in his own play. “I’m not proud of my performance,” Romo said. “I thought we moved the ball – but this is a game we lost by seven and I threw four interceptions.”

What makes it most disheartening is that, in many cases, the turnovers are coming against less talented teams then the ones the Mustangs beat and controlled the ball against in UAB and TCU. “It was a game of two evenly matched teams,” Coach Phil Bennett said, “but we turned the ball over way too many times. Each week, we can’t defeat ourselves, and we did that today [against ECU].” Sometimes statistics lie, but in this case they’re dead-on. The Mustangs must hold on to the football if they hope to have success.

The Mustangs have a 9-3 series lead against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and hopes to continue that success Saturday at 2 p.m. in Skelley Stadium.

Trent Redden is a senior accounting and public policy major. He can be reached at [email protected].

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