Defensive Report: Q&A with Mason

"He is a tremendous athlete and a great quarterback. He threw 96% last week. I don't know if most quarterbacks could do that against air." - Tom Mason... The Mustang's defense will have a big challenge today. We are hours away from kickoff, so come inside as SMU defensive coordinator Tom Mason talks gives up the defensive report in this Q&A.

Talk about the challenge of playing against senior quarterback Andy Dalton. He will be the best quarterback you have faced up to this point.
"He is a tremendous athlete and a great quarterback. He threw 96% last week. I don't know if most quarterbacks could do that against air. He can beat you throwing or scrambling. Their offense is set up that you have to be aware of the quarterback at all times. Dalton is going to create unique challenges. We have noticed on film that when the game gets tight, Dalton is the one that is going to keep the ball."

You said at the luncheon that their running back Ed Wesley is better than their guy last year...
"Yeah I believe he is. He is a little faster, little more elusive when he gets to the edge. I don't know if he is as strong as the kid they had last year, but a really quality running back. He is similar to No. 25 running back at Texas Tech."

Grade the defense last week.
"I thought we played really well. We gave up a couple deep balls, but we were short at corner in that game. Other than that, that front seven is was as good as long as we have been here. The linebackers played their best game of the year."

What is different about TCU's offensive line compared to some of the others you have faced?
"Their bigger and more athletic. They feature a lot of different things that make you adjust. They create a lot of problems. Those guys have been together a long time. They really know what they are doing out there. It's a quality staff, quality team, and quality school."

Do you notice a sense of a rivalry from the players this week?
"Yeah, they get pumped up for TCU. It's always been a rivalry game. We are going to play well, I'm sure of that. The intensity is going to be there. What scares you in this game is they have a lot of big play capability. If we can minimize big plays and play hard, I think we will be alright."

I know you have been doing the whole rotation of the 2nd team on the 3rd drive, but can you afford to do it this week against the best offense you have faced?
"We will rotate some, I don't know about the 3rd series. We have to play those backups, it's just the way it is. They have to be ready, especially if someone gets hurt. We are to a point in the program where the backups aren't going to be that big of a drop off."

Friday night game, against a Top Ten opponent. Do you maybe not have to make as many subs because the adrenalin will be pumping for these guys?
"Yeah, they will be excited and want to play more. It's TCU. As coaches, you have to actually settle them down a bit. You worry about that."

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