Mustangs Run the Gauntlet Vs. Strong Foes
By Bo Carter
College Correspondent, sportsandoutdoors.guru
The schedule makers did not do SMU football any favors in the final two games of 2013 and the season opener this year.
Coach June Jones’ Mustangs last autumn finished a “murderers’ row” slate of homestanding Houston (one win away from a trip to the BCS in 2011) and Central Florida, which went on to beat Baylor in the Tostitos Bowl, its first-ever BCS triumph.
Ironically, SMU faced an emotionally charged Baylor in the inaugural game at McLane Stadium in Waco. Big crowd, big day for Baylor, big blowout win — 45-0 setback on Aug. 31.
Jones-coached college teams now have been blanked just twice in 195 college contests over 16 seasons since 1999 when he took over at Hawai’i, but the bothersome factor is both have come in the last three games.
Baylor compounded matters with arguably its best overall defensive performance in 22 years. The Bears defensive coordinator, Chris Bennett – former head coach at, yes, SMU — held the Ponies to -24 yards rushing, fewest allowed by the Baylor defense since 1992.
Baylor’s high-octane offense showed no signs of slowing down. Well, maybe a little: BU led the nation with 52 points per game in 2013 and scored 45 last Sunday, and still ended the evening with 574 yards of offense (261 rushing, 313 passing).
“We actually could have scored 21 more points,” said Baylor head coach Art Briles, “but we made some mistakes, which are correctable.
“We also were cautious about playing (quarterback) Bryce Petty in the second half after he got a helmet in the back early in the game. We let Bryce and our training staff determine his status, and we’ll have to evaluate him after a couple of days of practice and see how he’s feeling. We know it is not a structural injury”
Afterward, Petty said, “I feel a little old right now, I think I could have played in the second half, but I was pretty sore. Give our defense a lot of credit. Teams coached by June Jones hardly ever get shut out, and the defense really rose to the occasion.”
As it was, BU soph Seth Russell came on in long relief and completed 14-of-24 tosses for 152 yards and one TD. NCAA All-Name Team RB Shock Linwood added 16 carries for 80 rushing yards and a score while Jay Lee made eight catches for 83 yards and a single TD.
SMU had a 15-for-26 night from soph QB Neal Burcham but could not shake receivers open from sure-handed Baylor defenders and managed just 59 net yards passing.
“We knew they were a pretty good defense,” Jones said. “We knew they were more talented than what they’ve had been given credit for. But I didn’t expect us not be able to block them at all.”
College Football Dots/Dashes: SMU won 35 games from 2009-13 (most by the Mustangs since the 1981-85 seasons over five years, and had 22 NFL players in summer camps…National Football Foundation Gridiron Club of Dallas president and Plano (Texas) ISD director of athletics Gerald Brence attended as Baylor football dedicated McLane Stadium last Sunday night. His son, Collin, played a sterling role as “Bear” linebacker in BU’s 45-0 shutout of SMU. Collin Brence just received a full scholarship at BU after bring a special teams’ and defensive menace from 2011-13 and also has been Academic All-Big 12 Conference in the classroom…
It took Ken Hill six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and Montreal Expos to reach the 500-strikeout plateau as a Major League pitcher. Son Kenny Hill made his first career start for Texas A&M last Thursday against then-No. 9 South Carolina and passed for an A&M freshman-record 511 yards and four TDs while going 44-for-60 in the air… Last Thursday’s Temple-Vanderbilt clash had many National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame connections. Among them, former Temple head football coach and Owls’ head basketball coach/football assistant Ray Morrison and Josh Cody,respectively, both starred in football as undergraduates and coached at Vandy. Morrison was head coach at Vandy, while Cody was VU’s head basketball coach. Morrison also was SMU’s head football coach from 1915-16, 1922-34.
Bo Carter is former sports information director of the Southwest Conference and Big 12. He currently serves as secretary of the College Baseball Writers. Follow Bo on Twitter at #bcarter52 and Facebook at Bo Carter (Carrollton, Texas).