There will be so much more to write after an actual game. Trying to fill this much content without a game and an offseason that I've tried to write everything has been a bit tough. We'll get more detailed next week.
EDITORIAL | I've had a hard time figuring out what to editorialize in this part because I feel like I've written it all at this point. Everything except that breakdwon of the 3-4 that I had been promising which isn't going to happen. So at this point of the year, after writing previews for every team and trying to be as informed as possible, I feel like I'm tapped out about speculating about a team. Just a few more days and that won't be accurate. I'll have something, hopefully more profound here next week, but I still shake my head thinking that this was the absolute best thing that could have happened to us, the hiring of Kingsbury and being where we are today.
BOOKMARK THIS | The Solid Verbal is an excellent podcast (with SB Nation's Dan Rubenstein) with a brand new look on their site and they also did a Big 12 preview with Bill Connelly along with a ton of other stuff. So go check it out.
LINKS | These are your morning link:
- From the LAJ LB Terrance Bullitt and the rest of the defense feels like this transition is the easiest yet.
- The LAJ has an excellent profile of Co-DC Matt Wallerstedt. Go read it, you'll be happy you did.
- SB Nation has every uniform change in the college football.
THE LIGHT HAS GONE ON | The LAJ has a bit on S J.J. Gaines, who has been one of those surprises of the fall camp as he's going to be starting alongside S Tre' Porter. I am excited about Gaines because I think he might add an element of speed that wasn't as evident last year. Here's Co-DC Mike Smith on Gaines:
"J.J., he’s big-time," co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith said this week. "He’s one of our top secondary guys overall, out of the corners and safeties. He communicates great. He’s back there always talking. That’s what you want from a safety is somebody that can communicate, doesn’t freeze under pressure. He gets guys lined up, he talks and for that little size, he’ll come down and hit you, too."
CAPTION THIS | Bring on the Cats triumphantly returns with Adventures of the Big 12:
Texas Tech is doing his best Robin Thicke impression while Texas A&M twerks violently in front of him...
Tech: TALKIN' BOUT THEM BLURRED LINES
CHARTING | StatMilk is a nice website that has some terrific graphics. These charts and graphs are from 2012, so it's not terribly relevant, but paint a really nice picture of where these teams were last year.
KEYS TO THE GAME | I was in Throckmorton this past weekend and around a bunch of Red Raiders and I thought it would be fun to get their keys to the game for SMU.
Boober's Keys to the Game: Will need to establish the run early, so the offense will open up. Need to get more vertical for the passing game so that the running game also opens up. No big plays on special teams and must stop the run. If we have any shot, we'll have to force their hand and we'll be testing our secondary and will need big plays from the defensive ends and linebackers.
BD's Keys to the Game: Jace Amaro needs to provide some stability for what we think might be a rocky start to the game and he could provide a significant safety blanket to a freshman quarterback. Jakeem Grant needs to get it going on special teams and catch the ball on a consistent basis.
B-Nasty's Key to the Game: Keys are win the turnover battle and score early. I think the longer we keep them in the game and the pressure rises, a new quarterback may make some more mental errors. I think getting some first downs early and some points would help carry him in the game. SMU will score. We just have to score more.
THROW THE FLAG | I usually tend to think that this is going to be a sloppy game because it is the first game. I'm a little concerned about how players will play with the new targeting rules and how referees will also react. I'm not sure if they'll be hesitant or flag-happy. What I really hope happens is that the team of referees does their best to get things write. It's okay to throw a flag, confer as a group to make sure that the person that threw the flag and at least one other person saw the targeting hit, and be confident enough to pick up a flag if that wasn't the case. Just be confident to pick it up if you're not totally sure. I can't think of a rule that could affect the outcome of a game more than this.
CLIPBOARD | You know what's tough? Finding a quote more than thirty freaking words from SMU head coach June Jones. Either that, or the Dallas media doesn't really get to talk with Jones or the Dallas media doesn't care about talking with Jones. Either way, the best stuff from Jones has been from the national writers. So here goes.
The offensive line is making progress:
"The last three days they have gotten better and better. We’ve got a lot of new guys in there. Thomas had never played in there before; he’s starting to solidify."
The starting receivers are having a pretty good little fall camp. Pretty good little fall camp:
"Our first four have really had good camps. I feel good about those guys."
Or that Jones is feeling pretty good after a bowl game win:
"You feel better about yourself in the offseason, the workouts and everything you do carry over right through training camp. It just becomes an attitude, positive thinking."
Or how about those cornerbacks being pretty versatile:
"We haven’t had a big number of corners here. Now you’ve got a nickel package, a dime package; you’re not afraid to play man [defense] where you’ve got a linebacker on a wide receiver. That just opens up some things you can do."
Almost had you on that last quote. It wasn't Jones, it was really their defensive coordinator Tom Mason. He's got a lot more to say than Jones.
I wrote the above mid-week and found it incredibly difficult to find anything substantive from Jones, but then the LAJ spoke with Jones and OC Hal Mumme about how they are blending their offenses:
"Offensively, it’s been fun to have Hal Mumme around and having him do a lot of things," Jones said. "We kind of blended some things we were doing last year and this year with some of the ideas he had. It’s been fun to watch him coach the punt teams and do some different things that we haven’t done before."
The interesting thing is that SMU really wasn't much of a potent offense, but I think they somewhat earned that initial though because of Jones' stature. But SMU wasn't all that great offensively last year, maybe that's Gilbert.
PICTURE THIS | I've been trying to picture how the defense is going to perform for the longest time. Like many of you, I watched the defense in part during the spring game, but I have such conflicting expectations for the defense. On one hand, I know that there are a ton of talented seniors on this team, Kerry Hyder, Dartwan Bush, Dennell Wesley, Will Smith, Trey Porter, Ola Falemi and Bruce Jones.
I've seen all of them do good things and I think they are really on the verge of being the difference for this team, despite having to start a freshman quarterback. If this group can keep this team in games, and I think that there's a real possibility that they can, then this season can turn. I really don't know, but if what Co-DC Matt Wallerstedt said is true, which is that he wants to come from a bunch of different directions, blitz all over the field and make if difficult on the opposing offense, then we're most likely going to see some players having to cover receivers one-on-one and that probably bothers me more than anything else. From a personality standpoint, I'm averse to giving up the big play and would rather be being conservative. I've got a feeling that if you like that style, then you better hold onto your hats.
ACTION | We've got a couple of excellent videos, the first is the defensive line preview and the second is a coach-cam with WR coach Sonny Cumbie and Co-DC Matt Wallerstedt.
INJURY REPORT | Just like last year, I'll do my best to keep track of the injuries through the year.
Fall Practice: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - to miss SMU game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - believed to be out for SMU game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year.