Been a tough year for Mustangs football

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2015

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BY DIC HUMPHREY
DIC.HUMPHREY@YAHOO.COM

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The Mustangs’ football team hosts Tulsa this Saturday at 3:00 PM.  SMU takes a disappointing 1-6 record into the weekend and are 3.5 point underdogs to the Golden Hurricane, which is 3-4 for the season, and 0-3 in conference play.
First year head coach Chad Morris definitely inherited a talent starved team when he took the Mustang’s job.  Former head coach June Jones departed after three nondescript recruiting years, leaving a bare talent cupboard for Morris.  SMU was fortunate to carve out one win a year ago, and hopefully can top last year’s performance with at least one win in the five remaining games.
It’s still disappointing after the spark the team showed in the early part of the season.  In the first three games, the Mustangs beat the University of North Texas after losing to them by 37 points a year earlier, and made good showings against Baylor and TCU, both ranked in the top five in the country.  Indeed after four games, the Mustangs re-tooled offense had scored more points than it did in all of 2014.
After the TCU loss, the Mustangs played competitive games against James Madison, East Carolina and Houston.  Despite the record, Pony fans were still upbeat.
However, last Saturday they laid an egg against South Florida.  The Bulls beat them 38-14 in a game that really wasn’t that close.  USF put constant pressure on quarterback Matt Davis, who clearly had his worst statistical day.  He completed just nine of 24 passes and rushed for a season low 17 yards.  Morris lifted him after three quarters with the game’s outcome decided with a 31-7 score at that point.  Darrell Colbert replaced him and had a nice fourth quarter hitting 11 of 13 passes, including one completion to Courtland Sutton for a touchdown.
Davis’s hold on the starting quarterback position has become somewhat tenuous.  “He’ll start for us this week, but at the end of the day, we’re 1-6, and we’ve got to improve on that,” Morris told the Dallas Morning News.
The Ponies’ record may be less than expected, but the schedule has proven to be considerably more difficult than anticipated.  Four of the six losses have come at the hands of teams that are still undefeated as October draws to a close.  Baylor and TCU have not lost and are still ranked in the top five.  The winner of their matchup on the Friday after Thanksgiving will likely be one of the final four teams that play for the National Championship.  James Madison and Houston are also undefeated.
Amazingly, two of the Mustangs’ remaining opponents have also not lost – Temple and Memphis – and Navy has just one loss.  The American Athletic Conference has turned out to be far better than expected as Memphis, Houston and Temple are ranked in the top 25 and Navy is receiving votes.
The addition of Navy to the conference for football only gives the AAC 12 teams.  The conference schedule format is now an East and West division of six teams each, with the division winners playing a game to determine the conference championship.  Five schools are in the Central time zone.    Navy joins those five to form the West Division, with the other six teams in the East.  Each team plays eight conference games composed of one game against the other five teams in its division and three games against teams in the other division.  That means that three of the six teams in the West have zero or one loss as week nine of the season is upon us.
Despite the record, SMU continues to create a recruiting buzz.  There are now 23 verbal commitments.  A complete list of the verbal commitments, which are not binding, can be found at smu.247sports.com, which currently ranks the class as the second best in the AAC and 56th in the nation.  Assuming most or all of these recruits honor their verbal commitments; this class will represent a giant step forward from the final June Jones recruiting years.

OTHER MUSTANG HAPPENINGS:
– With this weekend’s home game being played on Halloween, the tailgating/pre-game party area on the SMU campus has been re-named “The Boolevard”.
– The other Mustang football team, the one Americans refer to as the soccer team, is ranked ninth in the nation this week.  They lead the conference with a 6-0-1 conference record and are 11-2-3 overall.  It’s the first time for the Mustangs to crack the top 10 since 2010.  Senior Idi Camara scored three goals last week as the Mustangs beat AAC opponent Tulsa 3-2 and tied number 13 South Florida 2-2.    Camara was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Week.  The soccer Mustangs host Temple Saturday night at 8:00 PM Central time at Westcott Field in their final regular season game.
– The AAC held their basketball media days this week.  The men’s team is the favorite to defend their conference title, garnering eight of the 11 first place votes among the poll of the coaches.  The women’s team was picked to finish eighth.  The Connecticut women’s team coming off three consecutive national championships was the unanimous choice to win the Conference.

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