SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 3

The Pony Stampede staff will be at every SMU fall camp practice this month and will provide exclusive stories, videos, and observations. Today we reflect on Day 3.

SMU's Line Eyeing Maxwell

By Beionny Mickles

One word to describe the SMU Mustang offense in 2011 would be inconsistent. At times teams had no answer for June Jones' Run N' Shoot and at other times, it seemed SMU couldn't smell the end zone. However, a bright spot -or shining star- for SMU's offense the past two years has been senior running back Zach Line.

Before going down with a foot injury in the tenth game of the season against Navy, Line had amassed an astounding 1,224 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns and led conference C-USA with just over 122 yards per game.

Now as another year is inching forward with every practice, Line is anxious to return to the field to finish up a career that has been as productive as SMU has seen since Eric Dickerson.

"I'm looking to get back out there. I'm kind of anxious because I got hurt and missed the last three games," said the first team All-Conference running back. "My foot's doing great. Today it felt real good, and I think I've passed the point where it's going to keep hurting."

Line pounded opposing defenders last year behind what was looked as a very experienced offensive line that featured by third round NFL draft pick Josh LeRibeus and seventh rounder Kelvin Beachum.

However, this year there will be four different linemen starting in front of Line. Nevertheless, Line is confident that this year's starters can be solid if they remain healthy.

"Most of them, well three or four of them, have game experience," Line said. "We have a good group of guys; if they can stay healthy we'll be fine. I'm pretty confident with what we have up front."

The other major switch that Line will have to adjust to is at the quarterback position which will be occupied by former Texas Longhorn quarterback Garret Gilbert. Line has had the chance to practice with Gilbert and is impressed thus far.

"From watching him out here, he's got very good accuracy, good arm strength, and good leadership and character over all," Line said. "I think with him and me in the backfield, it will bring a solid combination of talent and leadership."

One of the biggest headlines of SMU's recruiting for the Class of 2012 was the addition of Line's younger brother Prescott, who has been in camp practicing with the team. Line says that he thinks his sibling will get a chance to see the field on at least special teams if not a few reps at running back. Line has taken the initiative to show Prescott the ropes and is helping him get accustomed to the Mustang method.

"He had to adjust to a lot of things, moving away from home, college life, being around the big boys it's a whole new experience for him," Line said. "I've been here for a while now so I kind of know the routine, but I'm just trying to help him find his, making sure he gets up on time and is getting in to all of the mandatory check-ins. The way we do things is detailed so that's what I'm helping him pay attention to."

Line, who has racked up a slew of preseason accolades, says that it would be ‘cool' if he could bring a national award to SMU. But more importantly, he's focused on helping SMU win a conference championship and possibly earning a BCS bowl bid.

"Coach Jones said if we can get past this first one (Baylor) we have a lot of tough ones at home," Line said. "We don't lose at home so he thinks we can run the table.

"This summer we were nominated for a lot of accolades. I think that would be a cool thing to bring back to the SMU community. We haven't had something like that in a while. I think it would be a special thing."

Video: LB Randall Joyner talks about his fall camp experience

Dieter Unfazed By Critics, Pressure

By EJ Holland

Hype is a term often associated with athletes who fail to live up to expectations. The bar is set high for SMU freshman Gehrig Dieter, who broke numerous state and national receiving records in high school, and is coming in with a lot of ‘hype.'

Some skeptics say Dieter played against mediocre competition or that he doesn't have enough athleticism to succeed at the Division I level. But Dieter pays them no mind and is simply focused on having a breakout first season and proving he's the real deal.

"I don't really pay attention to what everybody is saying. All of the records and awards happened back in high school," Dieter said. "This is college football, and things are different. When I got here, I found out that a lot of receivers were just as good as me or better so I try no to listen to the hype."

After graduating early from Washington (IN), Dieter enrolled at SMU and was set to participate in spring ball but was instead forced to have surgery on a torn meniscus- an injury that happened in a high school but wasn't taken care of until he arrived on the Hilltop. Rather than a player, Dieter became an observer as he underwent rehab.

"I had to have surgery on it so I was disappointed. It was just supposed to be a one month rehab process, but it turned into about three because I tried to go back little sooner that I should have. I ended up nicking it up so it kept bothering." Dieter explained. This summer, I really just worked on getting back to full health. During camp, it has felt strong and hasn't bothered me."

Now that he is back to running routes at full speed, Dieter has spent the first three days of fall camp getting prepared mentally.

"I've really been working on the mental part and the speed of the game," Dieter said. "I've just been learning and working hard out here everyday. I know I was here in the spring, but I've been learning as much as possible."

Dieter will definitely need those mental reps as he switches from an X receiver to a Z receiver, which means he will line up on Garrett Gilbert's right side and compete with starter Keenan Holman and redshirt freshman Arrius ‘Ace' Holleman for playing time.

"I actually got moved from X to Z this week to add more depth to that side. I believe they moved me over there so maybe I could get some earlier playing time," Dieter said. "I was close to Der'rikk (Thompson), but Keenan has been helping me out and so has Ace. I do believe I can get in the rotation this season, I just have to get everything down."

Whether he will live up to the hype is still to be determined, but the 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide out has certainly shown flashes of what's to come in the near future.

Day 3 Observations

- Today marked the first day of shoulder pads. Things got a little heated towards the end of practice during the full team scrimmage as actual contact took place

- June Jones actually raises his voice today when showing the QB's the correct cadence

- Conner Preston to Daijuan Stewart could be a nice connection in the future. The pass-catching combo connected twice on beautiful long balls

- Der'rikk Thompson received compliments from Garrett Gilbert for his speed and route running

- Darius Johnson shows why he has the best hands on the team bringing in a beautiful one-handed grab across the middle of the field in drills

- Arrius Holleman dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball from Preston on the right hash and the next play he dropped another ball thrown a little low but it hit him in the hands

- A perfect ball from Gilbert to Keenan Holman was broken up in the end zone at the last second by defensive back Kenneth Acker - J.R. Richardson had quite a few pass breakups and blanketed wide outs

- Freshman Colin Lagasse looks comfortable as a slot receiver and had a nice leaping grab this morning

- SMU football alums Marquis Frazier and Shawnbrey McNeal were at today's practice

- During 7-on-7 drills, Randall Joyner made a sensational interception as he jumped snatched a Garrett Kristich pass that was intended for Ronnell Sims, who was running a drag across the middle

- Cameron Rogers looked good, making nice pass breakups in defensive drills

- Walk-on Troy Castle will be playing corner rather than wide receiver this season but was absolutely toasted by fellow walk-on Stephen Nelson, who is quickly climbing the depth chart

- Senior wide out Austin Fuller continues to impress with one-handed grabs but is still running with the third team

- In the 11-on-11 scrimmage Jeremy Johnson, after making some impressive moves after the catch, got up limping and was grabbing his ankle. He returned a couple of days later and at the end of practice said that he was cramping.

- The defense got riled up after a group of second team defenders caused Darius Johnson to fumble during the scrimmage. Acker and J.G. Davis were among the loudest voices congratulating their defensive teammates on the "free money."

- Running Back Rishaad Wimbley cracked some heads today as he punished defenders that got in his way

- Freshmen Chase Walling and AJ Justice picked up injuries and did not practice today

- During 11-on-11's Keenan Holman was spotted on the sideline getting ice taped to his right thigh.

- The Quote of the Day goes to Zach Line when he was asked what he would most likely be listening to before a game: "Nothing," he said. "I don't listen to anything; I stay focused."

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