What is going through J.J. McDermott's head these days?
What a whirlwind the first-year starting quarterback has been through: From coming in for Kyle Padron against Texas A&M to beating TCU to throwing for over 300 yards in three of his seven games as a starter to dropping two straight on the road these past couple weeks.
He's also ranked third in Conference USA, averaging 274.1 passing yards per game.
SMU has four guaranteed games left, three of which are at home. There's a chance there will be a fifth game – a bowl game – if the Mustangs get at least one more win.
But in order for the aforementioned to occur, McDermott has to swipe the past – the emotional wins and the embarrassing losses – out of his mind.
"As a quarterback, you can't think much about what you did in the past, good or bad," McDermott said. "You just have to prepare for the next week and move on.
"We need to get back on a roll for sure. The season isn't lost. We've had three losses and have four games left, plus a bowl game if we go to one, which we fully expect to do. We still have a chance to get 10 wins and have the most wins [SMU] has had in awhile. The team is still excited and motivated. The last two weeks were a bit of a setback, but we're looking forward."
McDermott, who has not practiced this week due to a fractured metatarsal (top of his foot) and sore shoulder (his throwing side), was upbeat and confident like he's been this entire season. If you ran into him in the street, you'd think he was coming off a win last weekend. He has a perfect attitude.
SMU is in a must-win situation this weekend against Tulane, but not all of that falls on McDermott's worn out shoulders.
"He needs to do a lot of things better, but we really haven't helped him as much as we need to," coach June Jones said. "We had some breakdowns in some areas that affected what [McDermott] does. But he's a competitor and he'll rally up."
Jones said after the team looked at the Tulsa tape, they felt as bad as they've felt all season.
"We weren't in sync," Jones said. "J.J. does his job and then somebody doesn't do their job and we got a guy wide open but can't get it off because we didn't pass protect. Then we pass protect and we miss a guy…just out of sync."
McDermott said that the locker room is not in a downward spiral though. Which is good to hear. He explained everyone knows this season can be easily redeemed.
"Everybody feels we need to get our stuff together, it doesn't need to be said," McDermott said. "It's pretty apparent that needs to happen.
"We have playmakers on the team, we just need to go out there and do our job."
McDermott fractured his metatarsal (top of his right foot) during the Tulsa game. He said he chipped it in the second quarter. He also hurt his throwing shoulder in the second half, so he's pretty banged up.
He said he had so much adrenaline during the game that the injuries didn't bother him until afterwards.
Tuesday morning McDermott was in a boot and did not practice. He did not practice Wednesday either, but the boot was gone and he was walking fine in tennis shoes. He played catch a little bit and took mental reps.
"I'm just taking it easy. I don't want to overwork it. I'll try again tomorrow," McDermott said.
McDermott has been watching film, feels confident about facing Tulane's defense and takes mental reps behind Stephen Kaiser and Conner Preston, the guys taking snaps at practice this week.
McDermott was adamant that he will play this week.
"Absolutely. No question," he said.
He's receiving treatment on his foot twice a day from a biomodulator – advanced technology that is designed to control pain basically through a laser that brings energy to the injury to make it feel better. McDermott says he's feeling better every day.
Kaiser took the majority of reps in Wednesday's practice.
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