Quarterback help is on the way

SMU has dropped four of its last five games and in those losses, J.J. McDermott has thrown nine interceptions to two touchdowns. So why not sit him on the bench and play another quarterback when there are three guys waiting in the wings? Seems the coaches don't have enough trust in their backups. Maybe that will change when three new quarterbacks come to campus to battle it out the next few years.

At first it seemed silly that SMU would have four and five quarterbacks on its depth chart for the next six years or so.

Now it makes sense.

In SMU's 37-7 loss to Houston Saturday, J.J. McDermott made bad decision after bad decision and had two costly turnovers, an interception on the goal line and a fumble with good field position.

Cut out the misfires and giveaways and the game turns out differently.

The Mustangs have now dropped four of their last five games and in those losses, McDermott has thrown nine interceptions to two touchdowns. He now has an interception-to-turnover ratio of 15:14 on the season.

With those numbers, it makes sense for June Jones to try out another quarterback, right? But the problem is, Kyle Padron has been out for a few weeks with a herniated disc, and even if he were healthy, it's unknown of whether he'd even play because he's weak mentally and not where the coaches would like for him to be at this time.

Redshirt freshman Stephen Kaiser is currently the No. 2 guy and has zero game experience. He hardly even takes reps at practice. True freshman Conner Preston is probably going to redshirt.

Next year, SMU has an under-the-radar quarterback coming in in Neal Burcham (Greenbrier, Ark.). Burcham shared Co-MVP honors this summer at the Elite 11 camp with five-star Florida State commit Jameis Winston and four-star BYU commit Tanner Mangum.

He outperformed big names like Gunner Kiel, who is Scout's top-ranked quarterback in the nation. Even former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who was a coach at Elite 11, is high on Burcham. He tweeted once that schools in Burcham's region who haven't offered him a scholarship were "stupid."

When Burcham gets to campus next summer, he'll have a four-way battle against Padron, Kaiser and Preston.

Former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert will be heading to SMU this January, but per NCAA transfer rules, he cannot play until 2013. But he'll be at practice and learn the Run and Shoot alongside the aforementioned players, which could make them nervous for the next year when Gilbert is eligible to compete for a job.

And then in 2013, junior Eddie Printz (Marietta, Ga.), who has a solid verbal commitment to SMU right now despite receiving interest from SEC, Pac-12 and ACC schools, is expected to come. Padron will have graduated by this time and so there will be a five-way competition between Printz, Gilbert, Burcham, Kaiser and Preston.

Seems a little superfluous to have that many quarterbacks, but it appears the coaches just don't have confidence in their current backups and need more options.

As frustrating as it may be to see McDermott throw the game away, while, in his own words, the defense "works its butt off," the fact is, the coaches trust their starter the most of any other player they currently have at that position.

Obviously things are not working out as of late. McDermott started his career off 5-0 and has since gone 1-4.

Just when everyone thought SMU's season would be different this year and that McDermott was getting the hang of the system, doubt sets in and he gets called out for not being emotional enough.

It's kind of ironic that an offensive guru like Jones is having quarterback problems, but that's just another reason why the fight for the starting quarterback job these next few seasons will be more interesting than ever.

The Mustangs are clawing their way into national relevancy with winning records and BCS status and need someone who doesn't give games away to be their leader.


For more SMU coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!

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