Five Quick Hits from Monday's Practice

How will SMU handle the noise at Kyle Field?...Who will return kickoffs and punts?...How will SMU's D handle A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill? All that and more inside.

Five quick hits from today's practice:

1. Well, it's officially football week. To start off its first Monday practice before game one, SMU coaches put on a little sound simulation while the team was stretching. The noise came from clips of Texas A&M games.

This group of Mustangs have never played at Kyle Field before, a stadium that has a capacity of over 70,000 and a fan base in attendance that makes you feel like there's double that.

The craziest environment any of these guys have played in was last season in Lubbock at Texas Tech. Jones AT&T Stadium holds about 60,000.

"I've been to an A&M game so I know what its like a little bit," senior receiver Cole Beasley said. "The fans at Texas Tech are much more rude than A&M fans, so it'll be real loud, but that's how football is and needs to be played."

Added safety Chris Banjo: "I've heard it's probably the loudest place you will ever play in college or at the next level. I'm really excited for me and my teammates to compete in that hostile environment…Once we get on the field, we're locked in."

2. Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played his first 30 games as an Aggie at wide receiver, assumed the starting QB job midseason last year. A&M went 5-1 with Tannehill under center, the loss coming against LSU in the Cotton Bowl.

Tannhill, who completed 65 percent of his passes in those final six games, threw for 1,638 yards and 13 touchdowns. So how will SMU's defense, who ranked 40th nationally in total defense last season, allowing 352.9 yards a game, stop Tannehill and an offense that averages 441.8 ypg?

"He's an athletic quarterback, a very capable passer," defensive coordinator Tom Mason said. "He's a threat to beat you with his feet, so you gotta keep him in the pocket. We can't let him create things by getting loose…We gotta pick and choose when we go after him."

3. A depth chart hasn't been released yet, but if I had to say today who will be returning kickoffs and punts, it would be Beasley and freshman defensive back James Richardson for the former and sophomore corner Kenneth Acker for the latter.

4. Some of the players have been sporting workout shirts that read: "Nothing to it but to do it" on the back. Beasley said that saying is one of many team mottos this year.

"A lot of people said they were gonna do stuff, but it's a matter of doing it, not just saying it," he said. "The biggest thing though is believing. If we believe in ourselves and in our teammates, we can do it."

5. The Mustangs have quite the veteran group this year, with both sides of the ball stacked with upperclassmen. On offense, the only underclassman that could start is sophomore receiver Kennan Holman and defensively look for Acker at cornerback opposite Richard Crawford.

"It makes a big difference, having older guys," Beasley said. "If you had a lot of young guys in there, the game sometimes gets too big for them. Especially with our first game going into a big crowd like [A&M], young guys might get too nervous and not play up to their potential."

With experience comes more confidence. Banjo believes that one of the reasons SMU didn't win the conference championship or the Armed Forces Bowl last season was due to a lack of maturity.

"We probably weren't mature enough to handle being in that situation," he said. "I believe as a team we've really matured and are ready to handle a situation like that. We've worked our butts off in the offseason through the summer and in camp. We're excited to get going."

Bonus point:

Texas A&M may play in the Big 12 and think it can compete in the SEC, they may have one of the craziest and loudest fan bases in the country and they may have more talent, but that stuff doesn't matter to the Mustangs. When asked if SMU can upset A&M on Sunday, Banjo answered without hesitation:

"Definitely. Definitely," he said. "I mean we're going in there expecting to win. We want to get our season off to a great start. We really believe we can go in there and beat them."


Pony Stampede Top Stories