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


SMU Mustangs face huge challenge against UAB

Going to play the Conference USA favorite on a three-game losing streak is not what Lynyrd Skynyrd had in mind when it penned its famous song, but that is what the Mustangs face against UAB this weekend. The Blazers are 3-1, with their lone loss coming at then No. 3 Tennessee in a game which the Blazers dropped, tying a touchdown pass with under four minutes left in a 17-10 loss. In short, they’re good, and SMU’s Coach Phil Bennett knows it. “We have a big challenge ahead of us. I think UAB is one of the top programs in Conference USA right now and they may be the best offense we will face this season,” he said.

Key Matchup

UAB’s Darrell Hackney vs SMU’s Defensive Secondary

He goes by the name of D-Hack, but there is nothing poor about his play. The eighth leading passer in Conference USA history has completed 69 percent of his passes for 1148 yards in just four games. Hackney is a great decision-maker who has thrown to eight different receivers on the season and has just one interception to his seven touchdowns on the year. The Atlanta native is best known for his beautiful deep ball, or perhaps because he is the biggest quarterback in Division I, weighing in at 240 pounds.

Although obviously tough to bring down, Hackney is not much of a running threat, meaning the burden for stopping him falls on the defensive secondary that has struggled the last three games. Texas A&M, Tulane and Marshall averaged 310 yards passing on the Mustangs, as SMU has routinely given up the big play in the secondary. Jamey Harper, Joey Sturdivant and Rolando Humphrey, three out of the four top tacklers in the team, still reside in the back four, but the secondary has stopped creating the big plays we saw in the opening two weeks of the season. SMU will need David Haynes, Brandon Jones, Randall Goode and Jonathon Lindley to step up and have solid games as the Blazers run a myriad of four receiver sets. The secondary must limit Hackney this weekend for the ‘Stangs to have any hopes at leaving Birmingham with a win.


UAB’s Reggie Lindsey

Darrell Hackney made Roddy White a lot of money by making him look good enough to be the Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick last summer. He may be doing the same thing right now for Lindsey. Through four games, the Pensacola, Fla. native has 20 catches, including a five-catch, 133-yard performance against the Rice Owls. Lindsey also is a returning second-team, all-conference kick returner. Not bad for a guy many people believed to be too small to succeed at the Division I level as a go-to receiver.

SMU’s Offense

The question is simply whether or not it will show up, as the Mustangs have had less then 200 yards of offense in each of the last two games. SMU also lost their second-string quarterback Tony Eckert for the season on Saturday when he broke his collarbone during the game against Marshall. The rushing attack has to help starter Jerad Romo, as last week DeMyron Martin, Richuel Massey and Cedrick Dorsey managed to gain only 40 yards on 34 carries. The passing attack hasn’t been much better; Romo has struggled lately, averaging less then 100 yards in the last two games. The offense must put some points up on the board this weekend if it hopes to stay with the high-powered Blazers.

Inside the Blazers


The Blazers are known for their high-powered offense, but it has been their defense that has been a little bit of a surprise this season. The defense is keyed by the only sophomore to make last season’s C-USA first team, Larry McSwain. The man on the watch-list for every major defensive year-end award has gotten just one sack this season after having 13 on the year last year. The difference is that McSwain has faced constant double and at times triple teams, which has allowed the rest of the front four to put constant pressure on the quarterback. This pressure has allowed the secondary to be second in the nation, with 10 interceptions, and first in the nation in turnover margin, at +2.5 per game. McSwain may not have the gaudy stats that he had last year, but the increased attention he receives means a better defense for the Blazers.

Inside the Mustangs

Watch You Talking ’bout Willis

Coach Bennett is looking to shake things up with his quarterback position, and that might mean the red-shirt might be taken off the highly-touted true freshman, Justin Willis. “We are going to practice Justin this week and see how he handles things,” said Bennett. “I can tell you that Justin is a smart player, and we are very excited about his abilities.” The Denton Ryan product is probably best-known for quarterbacking his team against Southlake Carroll last season on ESPN2, but the youngster combines speed and field awareness wise beyond his years. Look for Willis to shake things up if the Mustang offense continues to struggle.

The Mustangs visit Birmingham to play the Blazers for the first time ever. The Ponies look to win their first C-USA game ever tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Legion Field.

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