Thursday, February 23, 2006

College Football News C-USA Spring Preview

Check out today's articles on First, there is the C-USA Spring Looks.

Here is what they had to say about good ol' SMU:
SMU Spring practice starts March 3, Spring Game April 8
The big spring question is ... Can SMU stop being so flaky? How could a team that lost to Texas A&M 66-8 and a nomadic Tulane team 31-10 also beat TCU, Houston and UTEP? Had the Mustangs been able to pull out an overtime win over Marshall, they would've been bowl eligible. Things are definitely on the upswing for Phil Bennett's club, but consistency has to be the key.
The most important position to watch is ... Linebacker. The quarterback situation will eventually be fine with Chris Phillips good enough to handle the job, but the defense has to maintain the relatively high standard it set last year when it finished second in the league against the run and in the top half in most of the other categories. Safety/linebacker Alvin Nnabuife was a top playmaker who'll be sorely missed on the strongside, while Reggie Carrington has to prove he can replace the man in the middle, D.D. Lee.
Spring attitude... Build on the three game winning streak that ended 2005. Not only did SMU win it final three games, it beat bowl bound Houston and UTEP teams. There was even a great battle with eventual Conference USA champions Tulsa before the streak. In other words, the program has taken a big leap forward to become more competitive. Now the extra step needs to be taken to become bowl eligible. The team has to have that sort of positive attitude from day one.

One has to wonder how much they follow SMU when they say Phillips is good enough to handle the job. That may or may not be true, but one thing the fans that follow the program closely know is that the coaches are not sold on Phillips at all. Yes, linebacker is a big concern, but for some reason, I think the LB situation will work itself out. It is just a feeling I have. QB is the issue that needs to be resolved before any other.

As for the team being flaky, I think that has as much to with youth and inexperience as it does anything. But more important is what is only hinted at in the "Spring Attitude" section. After the Tulane game (a game that still drives me bonkers), SMU had seven games. SMU won four of the seven. The records of the teams SMU beat were 5-6, 1-10, 6-6 and 8-4. The records of the teams they lost to were 4-7, 5-6 and 9-4. The margin of victory in those wins was an avg. 9.75 points. The margin of defeat was 5.67, with no loss by more than seven points and one loss in overtime. This team started to come together. The team in its last seven games averaged eight more points than it did in the first four; the defense allowed an average of 13 fewer points in those last seven games. This team played better in the last seven games last year than it has since the second half of 1997. The difference is that this team is returning a hell of a lot more starters than that team did.

The other article is "Spring Storylines". There are a few SMU references, mostly about improvement. There is one note about the schedule, which echoes a point I made when it came out: three out of four road conference games in a row is going to be a bitch.

And on a side note, for the people that bitch about the schedule, I will again suggest you look at Rice's schedule and ask yourself which you would rather have. Seven road games with "home" games against Houston and UT. I'd rather drive to Ford and watch SMU whip Sam Houston than drive to a bar and watch Rice get crushed by UCLA or be outnumbered in the stands at home 10:1. But that is just me.

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