Quick Hits from Thursday's Practice (11/3)

J.J. McDermott practices...Stephon Sanders could start at linebacker...SMU to the Big East as soon as Friday? All that and more inside.

1. J.J. McDermott practiced today for the first time all week and coach June Jones said he will take all the reps Friday, too, and will be ready for the game on Saturday.

McDermott heads into this weekend's game after hitting a rough patch, going a combined 33 of 69 for 353 yards with six interceptions and no touchdowns against Southern Miss and Tulsa.

"J.J. is a very good student of the game. He watches a lot of film," Jones said. "When he came out today [for the first time this week] he knew everything. He'll go again tomorrow and get all the throws and he'll be ready."

2. Starting linebacker Victor Jones is out with an injury, so that opens the door for true freshman Stephon Sanders or sophomore Randall Joyner to start in his spot.

Jones has been very impressed with Sanders this season and says he's "the real deal and will be a big-time guy for us down the road."

3. Earlier this week, Jones called out his team for being fragile after being blown out in back-to-back weekends. He said he's feeling better about the strength of his team as the week has gone on.

"You never feel better until you get out of Saturday with a win," he said. "When you're down after a game, every day gets a little bit better, but you never get [losses] out of your system until you play again."

The attitude of this team doesn't look like one that's dropped two conference games in a row. Jones said that his team's morale is up.

"Even when we were 1-11 (2008), I didn't feel like the kids ever were down," Jones said. "We didn't ever have a practice where we weren't focused. These are good kids, but a lot of it is the coaches getting them up and it's an ongoing battle to do that, but the kids have been pretty responsive always."

4. Tulane heads into Dallas with a six-game losing streak and a new coach. Bob Toledo resigned as head coach two weeks ago and Mark Hutson is filling in as interim.

Under Toledo, Tulane used two tight ends and two running backs in their offensive scheme against SMU last year. Jones says he thinks Hutson will spread the field more this weekend.

But no matter what they do, Jones knows that running back Orleans Darkwa, who ranks fifth in C-USA in rushing yards, averaging 67.3 per game, and is second in the conference with nine rushing touchdowns (behind Zach Line who has 14), will get the ball.

"He is really good, he can go," Jones said of Darkwa.

5. According to the Idaho Statesman, Boise State officials are expected to answer questions regarding the Big East at a State Board of Education meeting today. The board, which oversees the state's colleges, must give Boise State permission to change conference affiliation.

The Board is reportedly expected to give the go-ahead to go to the Big East, which would mean that SMU, UCF and Houston, who are eagerly waiting word from Boise State, could announce their conference changes as soon as Friday. Navy and Air Force could announce Friday as well.

"From everything I'm hearing, it looks very positive," Jones said. "I don't know anything officially, but from everything I've read, it looks like they're going to do it and Boise is the key."

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