Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tulane Attendance

The New Orleans Times-Picayune all but confirms what I have been saying for a week. From today's New Orleans Times-Picayune:

But expectations for a large turnout are low.

Dan Holden, the director of ticket operations and sales, said he is hoping for about 15,000 people to actually be in the Dome, although season-ticket sales are at about that level.

BTW, according to the article, Tulane's band has only 45 members. I forgot they didn't even have a band for years.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Thoughts on Falcons @ Saints and SMU @ Tulane

Ahhhh…the genius that is Jim Copeland.

Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky: Hey, Jim. How are you?

Copeland: Good. Just trying to decide what color to paint the downstairs powder room in the new house. What do you think? Ecru or Winter Beige?

Conference USA: I dunno, Jim. I am kind of in the middle of fixing this schedule thing. I have the Tulane AD on the line. We want to ask you a question.

Tulane AD Rick Dickson: Hi, Jim. I know this is awkward, but have you heard anything? I haven’t gotten a call back from Turner. I heard he was talking to some AD in-conference, but I am confused ‘cause I haven’t spoken with him.

Copeland: Uh huh. Wife really likes a gloss finish in the bathroom. I think the shine is too overpowering, personally. Hard to concentrate. More of an eggshell person myself.

Banowsky: Anyway, Rick and I were talking. Rick wanted to know if SMU wouldn’t mind being Tulane’s first game in the Superdome since Katrina. Tulane only has five home games this year. Army can’t move their schedule at all, so it has to be a conference game. We called Rice and they hung up on us, so we thought we’d call you.

Dickson: It would mean a lot to us Jim. It will be a very emotional night for Tulane fans, alumni and students. Sure, the players will be jacked up, not unlike when SMU opened Ford. And even a year out, I can tell you the chances of SMU coming out alive, much less with a win, are slim.

Copeland: Maybe I will paint the study in UVA colors. That would be sweet.

Dickson: So you’ll do it Jim?

Copeland: Yeah, UVA colors, with a single black accent stripe so you can say they are the Cleveland Browns colors, too. Not those Baltimore Ravens, that Art Model is a bast-huh? What? Sure. Sure, Rick. Anything. We’ll play Tulane this year. When is that game going to be again?

Having just watched the Saints-Falcons on TV, some are afraid of what awaits SMU in New Orleans on Saturday. I am not going to allay those fears other than to point out a few very simple facts.

First, there are not going to be 70,000 people in the Superdome on Saturday. There won’t be 50,000. If there are 30,000, I will be surprised. I am y be wrong about this, but I think the fact that nothing official has been said about this supports me.

Second, I dare say there will be more SMU fans in New Orleans on Saturday than there were Falcon fans on Monday. And those SMU fans will make up a larger percentage of the whole. I am not saying it will be anywhere close to 50-50 mind you, but the SMU fans will help.

Third, screw Green Day and U2, we are bringing the Mustang Band.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More Tulane scouting

Paige Brooks, Tulane Grad, She was apparently in "Men in Black II."

Also, if you do a search on google, you come up with these:

I am not sure how these got posted to the blog. I try to be good.

Thomas Morstead gets jobbed by Conference USA

OK, so this week's Conference USA players of the week are out. Hard to fault the choices of Kolb and Moton Hopkins for Offense and Defense respectively, but the Houston punter for Special Teams player of the week? Punter Justin Laird had two punts for 92 yards, which is an average of 46 yards for those of you without a calculator.

Morstead had two punts (and isn't the fact that SMU only punted twice getting lost in the shuffle?) for 93 yards, which is a 46.5 yard average. I am not going to quibble over one yard. But when you include the fact that Morstead was also 5-5 on extra points and 2-2 on fieldgoals, including a 51 yarder, it is no contest.

Edit: Laird's longest of the night was 48; Morstead's longest was 51. Oh, and the AP box score says Laird had only 88 yards, not 93. But that doesn't matter, because Laird just punts, unlike Morstead who does it all.

Nothing like a good ol' fashioned drubbing

SMU held a predominantly running team to just 69 yards. That is solid. If there was a concern, it is that SMU gave up 193 yards, which is more than double Arkansas State’s previous passing high for the season. Of course, a third of that came on one play in the first quarter. As for scoring, SMU beat Arkansas State worse than Oklahoma State did.

Again, Arkansas State is not very good. Like I mentioned, they would have lost that Army game if Army had its whole team. Army turned around and beat Baylor after barely losing to A&M. You can tell Arkansas State didn’t have a clue on defense.

The story, like last week, is the offense. It is the second week in a row where Rusty Burns and Phil Bennett decided to look beyond the first five pages of the playbook. This led to the weirdest stat of the night: Zack Sledge’s season pass efficiency rating is 1,060; going 1-1 for 75 yards and a touchdown will do that. I honestly didn’t think it went over 1,000.

Dorsey had 80 yards on 10 carries; Mapps had 132 yards on 14 carries. All and all, 226 rushing yards isn’t bad for a team starting its third tailback in four games.

There was some concern in the first quarter. SMU scored in the first 90 seconds, then SMU and Arkansas State trade punts, then SMU, err- Devin Lowery, gives up a touchdown, but blocked the extra point. As an aside, I am one of those that believes the missed or block extra point usually ends up being a factor at the end of the game. Then, SMU commits five penalties in the first quarter. Then the Sledge pass to Chase and SMU took off. SMU straightened out the penalties, committing only three more in the last three quarters.

But, hey, it is hard to complain when the offense scored 40+ in back to back weeks for the first time since 1982. We were debating this in the stands; I thought they might have done this under Cavan in 1997, or possibly Rossley in 1992 or 1996. BrianTinBigD guessed it was while Meyer was coach, and I was sure at least Collins had pulled it off. Then there was the combined 100 points in two games; you have to go to the combined drubbings of Rice in Trinity in 1928 for that. It was the first time SMU scored 50 since beating Northridge State in the last game in the Cotton Bowl.

Now, it is on to New Orleans to face Tulane. This game is giant question mark. Tulane got drilled by Houston and LSU; the Houston loss may not be something to be embarrassed about as Houston is 4-0 after beating Okie State. Tulane beat Mississippi State, an SEC team, which barely beat UAB in overtime. Of course, all games were on the road, so you can look at the schedule and say that Tulane is pretty good, much better than their 1-2 record reflects.

The story, of course, is that Tulane is returning to the Superdome. I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the Tulane crowd and I don’t think anybody else does either. There is a note in the paper that suggests 50,000 people could be there. Comments on the Tulane message board suggest there might be 20,000. I guess I have a hard time believing Tulane is going to sell 50,000 tickets at $32 a pop. Regardless of the size of the crowd, it will be an emotional night. We can chalk this up to one other incredibly stupid scheduling decisions that allow Jim Copeland to haunt this school from Virginia. Seriously, was he an active participant in scheduling or did he just respond to every question with a shrug of the shoulders?

Scouting Tulane:

Friday, September 22, 2006

The only good thing about the Oregon-Oklahoma game

I don't know what is happening in this picture, but we need more of it.

As for the game itself, "Wah wah wah." Bad calls happen all the time and in college, people don't realize the conferences own up to the all the time, too. But the result never changes.

Case in point, the SMU-Marshall game last year. The Marshall qb absolutely fumbled (and SMU recovered) the ball late in the 4th quarter on Marshall's drive to force the game into overtime. The officials on the field called it an incomplete pass. Though it should have been reviewed, it wasn't. Marshall was rushing to get men on the field to call a play. Bennett did the right thing and called a timeout to give the replay official the chance to review it. The call stood.

The next day, the conference apologized to SMU for blowing an obvious call. Now you might say what difference does it make, but if SMU had won that game, they would have finished second in C-USA West and 5th overall in C-USA and gone to the GMAC Bowl instead of UTEP, the first in 21 years. So which is worse, missing a blown reviewed call that cost a team its firs bowl game in 21 years or missing a blown reviewed call that caused the is going to relegate OU to the Holiday Bowl, where they went last year and lets face it, were still going to wind up there regardless.

She's just cute, people.

Long awaited thoughts on Sam Houston and Arkansas State

I have said nothing about the victory over Sam Houston State. SMU beat a vastly inferior team. Stats don’t matter. The score doesn’t matter. Anybody thinking that SMU has this thing figured out now needs to tap the breaks.

I believe, for the most part, I-A schools lose to I-AA schools only when they are not taken seriously. Colorado’s talent is vastly superior to Montana State’s. I suspect Colorado spent very little time gameplanning for there I-AA team and that lack of urgency filtered down from the head coach to the assistants to the players. To an extent, I think the same can be said for the A&M-Army game. A lack of urgency brought on by not taking the opponent seriously leads to a close game or an upset.

Urgency, for SMU after losing to UNT, was not going to be a problem. As an aside, if I ever get wind that there is such a problem before another SMU game this year, I am going to have a conniption.

Still, a win is a win. It serves two purposes. First and foremost, it is one of six needed for bowl eligibility, which is still the goal. Actually, the goal is to get to a bowl game, which I think is going to take more than six wins.

Second, it establishes a floor from which to build on the season with some confidence. I fully believe that if SMU had a I-AA team on the schedule in 2003, SMU would have won that game and then gone on to win at least one other game. If you can’t win a game, the negativity takes over and feeds on itself. But this year, the team has had some success and knows that if it performs it can be successful. People seem to dispute this and think it is better to play top 10 teams, but they are just wrong-when you are trying to build a program, you soften the schedule. I have already done the research and it is in the archives. I have been inviting people for two years to show me a rebuilding program that didn’t soften the schedule and nobody has shown me one. While I am all for conversation, until you can give me an example, don’t talk to me about it ‘cause I am going to swat your argument back to half court like Bamba Fall (hey, basketball season is coming up).

But I digress, SMU now faces Arkansas State in a third consecutive game that SMU should win. Much has been made of the fact that Arkansas State beat Army and Army almost beat A&M and this means disaster.

Well, there is something about that Army-Arkansas State game you don’t know. On the eve of the Army-Arkansas State game, the Thursday before that game, the NCAA received a phone call from one of Army’s opponents questioning the eligibility of starting center Pete Bier and starting left guard Dan Evans, both fifth year seniors. Army sat the two players against Arkansas State, until their eligibility was confirmed before Army’s game against Kent State. Imagine what happens to a run oriented offense loses the guts of its starting offensive line one practice before its first game. Don’t imagine; I will show you: Going backwards, against A&M, Army had 295 rushing yards; against Kent State, Army had 215 rushing yards; against Arkansas State, Army had 90 rushing yards. I watched the second-half of the Army-A&M when I got home from the SHSU game, Army runs between the tackles all day. If the Army-Arkansas State game were today, Army would crush them.

The game is at home. SMU should have better talent. SMU should win this game. The area of concern is running back where Martin out, Johnnie Fitzgerald is questionable, and now, apparently Fred Turner was hurt in practice. That leaves Cedrick Dorsey, redshirt freshman James Mapps and kick returner Jessie Henderson. Everybody else is expected to play, and it was suggested to me that Fitzgerald will play. The troubling word is their is a rumor that Justin Willis has the flue, though there is no word on that in the DMN. I know Kate Hairopoulos is new, but she can't be so incompetent as to neglect that detail, can she?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Reversal of Fortune

Sure, I admit it. I am a grown man with a job and two kids and I read the SMU Daily Campus. My personal life aside, it is fascinating when you consider the level of optimism for the SMU program two weeks ago to today. Case in point:

Party foul at Ford Stadium

The Genghis Grill Pigskin Preview was less than impressive to say the least.

With no more than 50 people in the stands, the band, pom squad, cheerleaders and senior football players outnumbered the audience.

The food provided by Genghis Grill was enjoyed by more than those who attended the kickoff, though.

Many came at 5:30 p.m. for the food, but left well before the festivities got underway.

Senior quarterback Duke Hasson emceed the event and the band opened up the night.

Then came the pom squad, who did a routine that would have been more impressive if there had been people to enjoy the performance.

The player speeches were short and to the point.

Justin Rogers started and let the few fans present know that "if ya'll stick with us we're gunna turn this around," and Brandon Bonds reiterated the same message.

The thing truly missing from the event was Coach Phil Bennett, who was on the schedule to speak.

There was no explanation given at the event for his absence.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bowl Talk

Adding to yesterday's note on the Sherrington chat, Calvin Watkins asks the question: "Were expectations set too high for a team with several questions on its roster?"

In a word, "No."

First, this team finished 5-6 last year. It defeated three bowl teams. It beat a ranked opponent.

Second, the schedule is significantly easier than the past season. Instead of TCU, A&M and Baylor, the schedule consists of Texas Tech, UNT, Sam Houston State and Arkansas State. That is a downgrade in competition if there ever was one. While Tech for TCU or A&M may be a wash, neither UNT, Sam Houston State or Arkansas State is as good as the other nonconference teams on the 2005 schedule. Phil Bennett has clamored for a softer nonconference schedule for years; it is a point that I still, despite the loss to UNT, agree with.

Also with regard to the schedule, compare this year's schedule to next year's schedule. In conference alone, SMU goes from playing the predicted three lowest ranked teams in Conference USA-East (Marshall, UAB and ECU) to playing the predicted three highest ranked teams in Conference USA-East (UCF, So. Mississippi and Memphis). The nonconference schedule is upgraded next year as well. Texas Tech, Arkansas State and North Texas are still on the schedule, but Sam Houston is replaced by TCU. The Tech, Arkansas State and TCU games are all on the road. Bennett is complaining that four of the first six games are on the road this year; I wonder what he will say when he realizes SMU plays seven road games and just five home games next year.

Third, the only significant loss on the offensive side of the ball was quarterback. Yes, SMU lost experience. The fact is SMU lost two quarterbacks that were not highly recruited by anybody. At times they were gutsy and at times were able to minimize mistakes, but neither quarterback produced stellar numbers. In their place comes Justin Willis who was hyped from the day he arrived and according to Phil Bennett, gave serious consideration to playing him as a true freshman. This is the third year in the same offensive system; a system we have been told repeatedly Justin Willis played in high school. The offense returned nearly every player that caught a pass in 2005. You will forgive us for thinking that the offense might at least meet, if not exceed, last year's 96th ranked passing offense.

As for the running game, the top two running backs return, including DeMyron Martin, whom nearly everyone was expecting to exceed the prior year's performance. The offensive line is bigger and more experienced with four starters returning. Oh, and Willis is a better runner than either quarterback last year. The line is also deeper than previous years. Again forgive us for thinking that the offense might at least meet, if not exceed, last year's 77th ranked rushing attack.

All and all, last year's offense ranked 104th and won five games. Was it unreasonable not to expect better than the 80th rushing offense, the 111th passing offense and 106th ranking in total offense (115th in scoring)?

Fourth, as for the defense, I will remind you that Bennett is a defensive coach. Yes a lot of the secondary and linebackers were replaced, and yes, SMU lost seniors, but SMU didn't lose these guys to the NFL. They have been replaced by players of comparable talent that, for the most part, have watched and should know their position. Not to mention that all four defensive linemen return and last year's top two leaders in sacks are yet to record one.

Fifth, this is Bennett’s fifth season. Five spring workouts. Five recruiting classes. Five years of Bennett’s defensive system. Five years of Bennett’s staff, though the current offense is in year three. In five years, a certain measure of progress is expected to be achieved. I am not saying “bowl or bust,” but beating a team in the worst conference in I-A that finished 2-9 the year before and couldn’t decide on a QB until Wednesday afternoon and a team that you really wanted to play is, well, on the wet end of the measuring stick. I am not even going to tell you where a I-AA team is on the measuring stick.

So, why was there bowl talk? I don’t know whether Bennett believed it or not. But he knew the alumni did. He knew that he had an athletic director and a President that were calling for expectations to be raised. Bennett knew that dealing with the disappointment of his stated goals if SMU fell short was going to be the least of his problems. Under those circumstances, why the heck not? Where is a program supposed to be five years in? It is not unreasonable to say that five games is not the ceiling. It is not unreasonable to say that you ought to be sniffing a winning record.

Honestly, I am irritated Bennett stopped talking bowl bid. We’ve lost two games. SMU should still beat Sam Houston (emphasis on the “should”). SMU plays Arkansas State at home, which is still a very winnable game; SMU may even be favored. Then Tulane. 3-2 is still a very real possibility and that would still be the best record for September in ten years. Soon after that, you may get Martin back. SMU plays .500 ball in-conference and SMU is still bowl eligible IF IT WINS ITS NEXT TWO GAMES. I said before, 2-2 nonconference this year is a disappointment; 1-3 is a disaster. Wait until there is a disaster before throwing away all talk of going to a bowl game.

Now, you may ask me, “What have you seen that leads you to believe SMU is even capable of something like that?” Well, not much. Certainly, on offense there is nothing to be pleased with. Bennett ought to be getting more out of the defense than he is.

This isn’t “Rah Rah Rah” talk. This is about meeting expectations. And to be clear, those expectations are reasonable expectations. This is also about being reasonable and giving a coach the reasonable opportunity to meet those expectation. And it is also about the reasonable consequences of failing to meet those expectations.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Note from Sherrington Chat

A question from today's Kevin Sherrington chat:

Mosley Fan: Will SMU fire Phil Bennett?

Kevin Sherrington: If they don't win six games, yes. Bennett never should have said the Mustangs should be a bowl team. Why create excess expectations? But even if he'd played it close to the vest, he'd probably still get it. SMU has a new AD. The new guy is always looking to start with a clean slate.

I am not sure I agree that Bennett shouldn't have been talking bowl game. I have some thoughts on this for tomorrow.

Wednesday Roundup

So, I watched the Phil Bennett press conference last night. Bennett is increasingly defensive. He got in an argument with Watkins. He was dismissive when asked about Rice, maybe Watkins again as Watkins reported some stats on increasing offensive production by various teams from last season, including Rice. It is not entirely clear who will start at quarterback on Saturday; it is not entirely clear who will start at running back.

Bennett made a point of saying that if you go strictly by personnel, SMU should have won the game. He wouldn’t call the game an embarrassment because that would be a disservice to UNT. They just “wanted it more.”

The indecision as to who will start at quarterback is troubling to me. Bottom line: this is Sam Houston State. IMO, if Willis was the starter against UNT and Texas Tech, he needs to start against Sam Houston. He needs to play and play well. This is as close to a layup as SMU is going to get.

For any respectable team, there wouldn’t be much game planning at all for a I-AA team, and that is why some scores against I-AA teams are closer than they should be. If SMU had beaten UNT, a close game to Sam Houston State would have been acceptable. SMU needs to pummel SHSU if it wants to prove anything, though at this point, even a blowout will not prove much.

I am going to warn you. If SMU does not demolish Sam Houston State, panic will continue to set in. Tulsa plays UNT at home on Saturday. Tulsa is going to pummel UNT.

I can’t link to it, but I am told SMU is back on ESPN’s Bottom 10. This is not surprising. SMU lost to a team on the Bottom 10 and hasn’t won a game.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Notes from presser via the College Sports Blog

Watkins has some notes from the PB press conference today. The bold comments are mine.

Had the great taco bar at the SMU luncheon courtesy of James Bailey, owner of First & Ten's bar and grill. I think it's a grill. I've just had drinks there. That's another story.

Here are the highlights of SMU's media conference on Tuesday.

• Phil Bennett is upset with the loss at North Texas, but said he still wants to play the Mean Green. He has no choice next year, since the Mean Green come to Ford Stadium.

• Bennett said Justin Willis is still the starting quarterback, but Bennett wants Willis to stop running out of the pocket. Willis, only a redshirt freshman, needs to step up in the pocket more and execute plays.

An example: Willis rolls out on the first play of the game and there's an open receiver in the middle of the field. Willis fails to see him because he doesn't move past the offensive tackle. If he moves past the tackle, he has better vision of the field. I previously made light of comments on short QB's, but there is some truth to it. You need to be able to see over the line.

• Bennett is backing off some statements made earlier in the year about reaching a bowl game. Bennett is a little touchy on the subject when it was brought up today. He said he doesn't want to talk about bowl games anymore. Ya think?

• The offense is in sad shape, averaging only 4.5 points a game. Bennett seem offended when asked was coordinator Rusty Burns going to move to the press box and call plays. Bennett said Burns will remain on the field to call plays.

• Bennett also said he's not in on offensive meetings. Last year, he sat in most of them and then toward the end of the year stayed out of the meetings. I asked him if he was going back in the offensive meetings and he said no.

Sunday, I was in the football office and I couldn't find Bennett. The defensive coaches were in their offices and said Bennett was meeting with the offensive coaches.

When I asked Bennett about this, he denied it and said I needed to get my facts straight.

Cool. No problem with that. This whole exchange is facinating. Watkins is outright suggesting Bennett is full of it.

I'm off to practice to see who becomes the starting running back.

Martin out 4 to 6 weeks

Well, the hits just keep on coming. DeMyron Martin is out four to six weeks. Much is being made of the statement by Bennett that there are no plans to redshirt Martin. To which I say, I understand the questions, but it is the right call. Martin is the opening day starter. He is out four to six weeks and he does not require surgery (we are told). Despite the losses in the first two weeks, it is premature to make asssumptions about shutting anybody down. Let's see where SMU is when Martin is healthy and revisit the decision. It may be SMU wants to bring him back into the fold.

Johnnie Fitzgerald, Cedrick Dorsey and James Mapps will compete for the starting job, according to Bennett. Mapps and Fitzgerald have seen carries in the first two games; curiously, Dorsey hasn't and didn't after Martin got hurt. Very strange considering big things were expected from Dorsey last year before Martin caught fire.

In other news, Sam Houston State quarterback Wade Pate will not start and is doubtful against SMU because of a separated left shoulder. Texas Tech transfer Phillip Daugherty will start.

Thanks to Keith Whitmire for the
blog mention.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cowlishaw Mention

From the Cowboys Blog, a comment by Tim Cowlishaw:

Another 9/11 memory

While sitting here in the Jacksonville Airport (don't ask), thought I might share what could be viewed as a little 9/11 humor from five years ago.

The day before, I went to the SMU press luncheon, which is an odd place for me to go. Told coach Mike Cavan I was going to write a column saying he would probably be fired if he didn't win four or five games (can't recall) and that he probably should be fired.
We actually had a nice talk about it, and he talked about some of the problems SMU faced (and clearly continues to face).

The column ran in the 9-11 paper. Needless to say, it had little impact, nor should it have.

But I got an e-mail around 5 p.m. from someone really laying it on Cavan, saying I had been too easy on him.
I responded that perhaps the e-mailer should turn on a television and consider that there's something more important than the SMU head coaching position that needed to be thought about right now.

... Also remember going over to Reunion and giving blood ... just the surreal atmosphere of all those people sitting quietly in the Reunion stands, not really knowing what to say or do. Polar opposite of some of the wild Stars playoff games that had taken place there not long before.

Gerry Fraley

If you haven't read Gerry Fraley's Sunday column after the UNT game, you need to. It pretty much sums it up for me. He's exactly right in substance and tone.

If you did not know, Fraley took a buyout from Belo and may not be around much longer, if it was accepted. For me, Fraley was the classic sports columnist. I thought he was an idiot and disagreed with nearly everything he wrote, but I read every column anyway. Gerry, if you read this, you should take that as a compliment.

Post-UNT thoughts

Allow me to describe my Saturday afternoon. I wander back to my Vegas hotel room around 4:00 or so. I have early dinner reservations down the strip. Wife is in the shower I an watching the Georgia-South Carolina game with my eyes glued to the ticker. SMU-0 UNT-0. A few minutes later: SMU 0 UNT-7. Awe, crap. UNT scored. Shortly thereafter, I began flipping back and forth between UT-Ohio State and well, the ticker on the bottom of the Georgia-South Carolina game.

At this time, it is important to note that the line of the UNT-SMU game was going up. There was money on this game and it was on the SMU side.

SMU 0 UNT-7 1st.

SMU 0 UNT-7 2nd.

SMU 0 UNT-7 half.

Shower; shave; get dressed.

SMU 0 UNT-7 3rd.

“Honey, we have to go.” “Wait. They are giving the score of the ECU-UAB game, the SMU score is coming up.”

SMU 6 UNT-7 3rd.

“Hey, SMU scored! It must be between the touchdown and the extra point; they couldn’t have made two fieldgoals that quickly, or … they missed the extra point.”

And there it stood until we got to our restaurant, conveniently next to the casino sports book, an annoying sports book where they only post scores at the end of quarters.

SMU -------0-0-6
No. Texas -7-0-7

“Awe, !@#$%^&. Waiter, I will have another drink.” We are right next to the sports book. Throughout dinner, you can hear the roar of the crowd watching UT-Ohio State.

Midway through dinner, I said, “I have to use the restroom.” “If you go check the SMU score, I am going to gouge your eye out with my butter knife.”

SMU -------0-0-6-0-----6
No. Texas -7-0-7-10----24

So now, I am depressed, my wife is PO’d, I am in pain and wearing an eye patch, but I don’t care because I am so freakin’ irritated with SMU, my whole night is ruined regardless of how many blackjack hands I play (ESPECIALLY WHEN ALL YOU KEEP GETTING ARE 8-5 AND KING-2! Seriously, I got so many 12’s and 13’s, I thought I was R Kelly)

When I came in this morning, I hadn't read the paper. I hadn't read the message boards. I hadn't reviewed the box score. The recaps and box scores do not paint a pretty picture.

Rather than link to the recaps and the box score, here is what’s Scott Farrell said before the game:

An SMU win evens its record at 1-1 and quiets any rumblings leftover from a disappointing start last week at Texas Tech. A key to any team's schedule is to beat the teams you are supposed to beat. And SMU, favored by a field goal, is supposed to beat the Eagles today based on preseason assessments and how the teams matchup.

A loss for SMU today, however, could send them reeling down a slippery slope that could quickly lead to a losing season. At 0-2, the team and its supporters risk losing the sense of promise SMU had going into the season. A win by UNT would also have a large ripple effect in recruiting circles.

That pretty much sums it up. You now have to take whatever assumptions you made about this team, wad them up in a little ball and throw them out the window. You absolutely have lost the right to count any game as a win, including the I-AA game against Sam Houston State. This doesn’t mean SMU is going to lose that game, but nothing can be taken for granted at this point. As I said before, a 2-2 nonconference record will be a disappointment; 1-3 would be a disaster; we have not reached “disaster” status yet.

I go back and forth on whether to address the coaching “situation.” It is what it is. This team did not play well. This team made mistakes. Multiple personal fouls and multiple special teams mistakes do not instill confidence. I think it is fair to call into question the ability of this regime to coach on game day and the ability to prepare from week to week. Four years in, you are supposed to be able to beat North Texas.

Orsini can give the proverbial “vote of confidence,” but what else is he going to do? You don’t fire a coach two weeks into a season. Anyone suggesting otherwise is a fool. As long as the coach has the opportunity to turn it around, he needs to be given that opportunity. Let me put it this way-Don’t even look in Orsini’s direction until after the East Carolina game on October 21st.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The College Sports Blog has some practice notes from yesterday.

Today's DMN says Bennett expects better from DeMyron Martin and expects Willis to stay in the pocket and not get happy feet. The running game was bad against Tech, but that was due largely because Tech geared up to stop the run and put eight in the box on a regular basis. In yesterday's DMN was a story about opening up the offense.

The basketball schedule is out. NOVEMBER 18TH-BE THERE!

There is no starting QB at North Texas, yet. Last week, two quarterbacks played; now last year's starter has been added to the mix, making three. Dickey is expecting Jamario Thomas to bounce back with a big game and wants to "eliminate what Dickey said was an unusually high number of alignment and assignment mistakes before meeting SMU on Saturday at Fouts Field."

In this weeks, Northwestern State news, Ricky Joe Meeks was 21 of 34 for 208 yards, one touchdown, one interception against Kansas. Richuel Massey had three yards on six attempts.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SMU's Schedule and My Schedule

SMU travels to UNT this week. Also, Orsini made more staff changes. To give you an idea why, read the stats in this article. The numbers are not good. None of them.

Former UNT coach Matt Simon once said he would play SMU anytime and anywhere, including a Safeway parking lot. UNT has wanted to play SMU for years and years. So why the heck are they not traveling to Ford in 2006?

Now, why did I discuss both of these in the same post? It is simple. The idea that SMU travels to UNT this week is ridiculous. It is moronic scheduling by a athletic department that was, obviously, in complete disaray. If you ask me, more scheduling changes will need to be made in the future.

I hate to see anybody let go. But anybody that suggests that major changes were not necessary at SMU was fooling themself.

Now for my schedule: On Thursday, I hop on a plane to Las Vegas. I am seriously considering staying blind as to the UNT result until I can listen to the radio broadcast on the archives. Since we are talking about Vegas, the odds of me blogging from Thursday to Sunday: 10 to 1; over/under total posts during that time: 2.


Taken from my sister-in-law, the kindergarten teacher:


Take a breath

If you penciled in a win against Texas Tech, you are an idiot. The fact is SMU lost to a top 25 team on the road. And probably an underrated top 25 team at that. Are we all gamblers? Are we mad SMU didn't cover the thread? Is that what this is about?

We are one week into the season. It is too early to make judgments about any team. It is certainly too early to make judgments about this team. Stop looking around the league and pointing. Yes, Arkansas State beat an Army team at home that was missing two fifth-year senior starting offensive linemen (btw, they tore down the goalposts for beating Army). Yes, three I-AA teams beat I-A teams, which for the record happens every year; it is the fact that it happened to a Colorado team that everyone agrees cratered last year that has people panicked. Stop worrying about UAB, which almost pulled the upset over Oklahoma. Stop looking at Rice with a panicked look on your face because they solid offense at home for fifteen minutes against a team SMU beat; maybe it says as much about Houston as it does Rice.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Am I mad? Should I be mad?

Furious? Enraged? Irate? Mad? Angry? Peaved? Irked? Yes. Irked. "Irked" is the word I am looking for. "Irked" is somewhere between anger and irritated.

You can’t be mad at the result. When the team is a four touchdown underdog, how can you be mad when your team loses? So why did I go to bed upset? At first I really couldn’t understand it. And I kept telling myself that I was worked up over nothing.

So I did what I always did. Google.

First search, is Tech a good, bad or average defense? Well, last year, they were above averaged. Ranked 30th in total defense; 18th in scoring defense. They were 67th in rushing defense; 15 in pass efficiency defense. That being said, they didn’t get a lot of sacks or tackles for loss. For 2006, they have three new starters in the secondary and new starters on both ends of the defensive line.

Look elsewhere brother, because the problem was SMU, not Tech.

Second search, when was the last time SMU coughed up an offensive performance like this? Well, pathetically, SMU coughed up two such pathetic performances last year. Against Marshall, SMU racked up a whopping 191 total yards; 10 for 25 passing attempts for 151 yards and 40 rushing yards on 34 attempts. The other was against Tulane, where SMU laid a complete offensive egg: 127 total yards; 8 for 18 passing for 64 yards; 31 rushing attempts for 63 yards.

Third search, where does SMU’s 2006 performance rank thus far? Eeee…. 187 yards gets you the 99th overall offense; 105th ranks passing offense, and 67th ranked rushing offense (really, it isn’t worse than that? Here’s the kicker, SMU finished last year at 77, so is that an improvement?); and tied for 103rd in scoring offense. The good news, guys, is that we rank ahead of next week’s opponent in rushing and total offense!!!

No, no, no. It isn’t in the numbers. It is something else. Ah, yes. I have seen this offense before. This is the uber-conservative; don’t trust the quarterback to do anything offense we used to see when Phillips was starting. That is what this is. Now, compare what we saw to what we were told:

The last four games last season showed the offense that I imagined when I came here to SMU - being able to be effective in the run and the pass. I hope that after being in this system for one year, Justin can continue to grow and learn from that. We potentially have a very good group of tight ends. This will give us the opportunity to do some things offensively that we hadn't been able to do in the past."

Bennett believes his new starting quarterback will use those lessons to solidify the position for the next four years. "He's not a guy who is going to kill you with his arm," Bennett says. "But he is a special quarterback. He makes everyone around him better."

Now, Burns said, the entire offense is in place.
"We've had a couple years to teach the offense, and the guys who have been here have had a couple of years to learn it," Burns said. "It's not such an overwhelming amount of new information for them now. They understand the offense better, and that really started to show toward the end of last year.
"Now that the guys understand everything better, we can do more things. We won't always be in four-receiver sets. We'll be able to do more two-back sets, or use multiple-tight end sets. The goal is to create problems for the defense, to give them more and more to worry about. It's not really that we're going to be doing anything different, scheme-wise. It's just that we'll be able to do a lot more of it. We want our quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly, because we have a lot of guys who can make plays, and we need to get the ball in their hands."

To be very clear, this is not about Willis. This is about Bennett and Burns. This is about what we were told we were getting versus what we got in Game One. I will sum it up thusly: Some time ago, Bennett started leaving Burns alone and letting him do his thing. I am not saying Bennett can’t coach and I am not saying Burns is some kind of offensive guru. Saturday night was an offensive gameplan where Bennett’s fingerprints appear to be all over it.
What? Are you afraid of losing by 80? This game was meaningless to SMU’s plans this year. Bennett may not want to trust a redshirt freshman to do lead this team, but he doesn’t have much of a choice. Let the kid throw a pick. Let him screw up. Better now than against North Texas.