Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday news and notes

Not much to talk about since Bennett told everybody to take a day or two off. Practice resumes today. Today's DMN states the obvious: Upcoming game big for SMU

UNIVERSITY PARK – SMU football coach Phil Bennett has mentioned several times that this group of Mustangs doesn't respond to arduous situations like the "same ol' SMU."

Heading into the final four games after a discouraging 38-21 loss at East Carolina, the Mustangs (4-4, 2-2 Conference USA) have a chance to prove that they're different once and for all.

Beginning with UAB on Tuesday (6:30 p.m., ESPN2), SMU must win at least two more games to become bowl eligible. SMU has a three-game homestand, which includes league leader Tulsa, before finishing the regular season at Rice.

"The situation we're in, there's an importance on this game," Bennett said. "We control our destiny without any doubt. ... You're going to be on national TV; it's going to be the only game on that night. Let's represent SMU; let's let people know who haven't seen us, yeah, hey, they're a pretty good football team."

The Mustangs reconvene today after three days off. Bennett told the players to get away from football so they would be fully prepared for the final stretch.

"This is where the money is made," Bennett said.

Painful pass defense: Bennett said his teenage daughter watched tape with him over the weekend because she wanted to know "why we couldn't cover anybody Saturday."

That is indeed the question. SMU gave up 402 yards in the air against East Carolina. Bennett said what stuck out to him was the linebackers' inability to wrap up receivers after short completions. Safeties missed calls and the defense wasn't aligned properly.

Bennett said the blame falls on the players and the coaching staff for not being mentally prepared. That will be an area of focus this week. Redshirt freshman Bryce Hudman will start at free safety in place of senior Randall Goode.

"Communication is a big key," Bennett said. "You gotta know what the call is, you've got to repeat the call, and you've got to have a sense of urgency."

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