SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 9

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 9.

Johnson Has Unfinished Business

By Beionny Mickles

One might think that a guy who leads his team in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, was voted first team All-Conference USA, landed a spot on the Biletnikoff watch list and did it all despite having streaky and inconsistent quarterback play, might be pretty content with his production- not Darius Johnson.

After having a stellar junior season, Johnson says last year's production was a bi-product of putting in hard work on the practice field and although it was a good season, his expectations were higher. Going into 2012, he looks to achieve those goals and then some.

"I want to get to 1,500 yards this year," the senior wide receiver said. "I planned to get there last year and ended up not getting it but this year, I'm going to strive for that."

Johnson has been working hard in camp to improve on his route running and timing, which he feels is a huge part of the SMU offense. Johnson says new quarterback Garret Gilbert has the type of leadership and skillset that can lead the Mustangs to a great deal of victories if he can stay consistent- something that troubled the offense last year.

"He's really stepped up as a leader. He's really accurate in his passing and timing, and he's very consistent," Johnson said. "I think that if he can continue that throughout the whole season we'll be good."

With Johnson arising as one of the best receivers in the conference last year, he will be no surprise to defenses this fall. With a target on his back, Johnson is confident that this will open up the offense even more, giving his teammates a chance to make plays as well.

"They can double cover me all they want," Johnson said. "We have three other receivers that will make plays too."

One of the Mustang receivers that is looking to have a breakout year is junior Jeremy Johnson, who entered the spotlight by making SMU's game winning touchdown against TCU in overtime. Being in the slot himself, Darius has been able to teach Jeremy about the position and has been stressing to him the importance of hard work and preparation out on the practice field.

"I'm just telling him to work as hard as he can every day. Each day he has to come out here and get better because we're all out here trying to get better as a team," Johnson said. "Jeremy works hard so he's going to be a force this year."

Johnson, who could join Randy Moss as the only Biletnikoff Award winners out of Conference USA, says that going up against SMU's young and competitive secondary helps him to compete at a high level in practice every day. Johnson also says that he thinks SMU's offense, which practices against guys like Ja'Gared Davis, Taylor Reed, and Margus Hunt on a daily basis, has the potential to be the best in the country.

"I want to be the number one offense in the nation," Johnson said. "I always wanted to be the best offense and we have the tools now. We've got Garret as a quarterback, and we've got four strong receivers so I think that's a very obtainable goal."

Johnson says that the sky is the limit for the Mustangs this year and as long as they can stay healthy and continue to work hard, what might seem to be impossible could turn into a reality. When asked about a prediction for the season he replied: "I'm saying 14-0. Wouldn't have it any other way."

Video: DE Kevin Grenier talks about his fall camp experience

Freshman defensive end learning schemes, working hard

By EJ Holland

When you look at the defensive lineman doing drills out on Pettus Field during fall camp, Margus Hunt obviously stands out but in terms of pure athleticism, freshman Elie Nabushosi is a close second.

Nabushosi is still getting acclimated to being a full-time defensive end after playing everything from quarterback to wide receiver to linebacker at Frisco Heritage. Luckily for Nabushosi, both starters- Kevin Grenier and Margus Hunt- have taken him under their wings.

"Kevin and Margus help me out a lot especially learning all our plays," Nabushosi said. "Off the field, I sit down with Margus, and he helps me draw up the plays and understand my assignments. Kevin does a good job during practice making sure I do what I need to be doing. "

The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is also getting used to the speed of the game at the Division I level and spent the entire summer working on getting faster as well as learning the fundamentals.

"The speed level they play at is really the biggest difference, but I just have to continue to play hard and get adjusted," Nabushosi explained. "This summer I really worked on speed and technique because I knew it was going to be one of the biggest transitions from high school to college."

On the field, Nabushosi is also learning the defensive scheme through constant repetition and pointers from defensive line coach Bert Hill.

"Coach Hill is doing a really good job," Nabushosi said. "He's making sure I get everything taught to me He breaks down everything and goes over all our plays in meetings. He talks about our stances and really helps us get know our position."

Nabushosi says he hasn't talked to the coaches about possibly redshirting but will be ready to go in case the team needs him. For right now, he is just enjoying the ride and hoping his team can have a successful season.

"I'm loving it right now," Nabushosi said. "We are all out here working hard. We have a lot of good coaches and young good players. We are really expecting to have a good season this year."

Day 9 Observations:

- Darius Johnson dressed out and did drills but did not scrimmage today (wrist injury)

- Like Johnson, Stephen Nelson suited up but did not participate in the scrimmage portion

- Elie Nabushosi can now be added to the injury list. The freshman defensive end had his armin a sling due to shoulder stiffness and did not practice

- As we reported yesterday, James Richardson injured his leg and was not out at practice at all today. There are still no details on what the injury is

- Freshman Colin LaGasse did not practice today. The reason is unknown

- Taylor Reed dropped K.C. Nlemchi today after Nlemchi caught a ball out of the backfield

- The first option play we've seen was ran today by Garrett Gilbert

- Freshman Ajee Montes made some great plays today highlighted by an interception on the sideline where he just took the ball away from WR Daijuan Stewart. Montes then celebrated by throwing the ball at Stewart's face.

- Arrius Holleman had the play of the day where he embarrassed cornerback Kenneth Acker. Ace put a move Acker at the line of scrimmage that made Acker fall and he streaked down the sideline wide open.

- Acker responded by pressing Gehrig Dieter and got physical with him on the next play. Dieter still used his body to make a nice catch

- Bobby Waid still looks like he could add some weight but has looked much improved from last year

- The QB's threw slants and inside posts today; a lot of dropped passes which has become a usual thing but there were a few nice catches in traffic mostly by Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman.

- Ryan Walker gave great effort diving for a number of balls thrown to the sideline and received compliments from the coaches

- The starting offensive line consisted of Ben Gottschalk, Blake McJunkin, Taylor Lasecki, Bryan Collins and Stavion Lowe

- Lowe still looks slow and out of shape. It will be imperative for him to improve dramatically by this time next week. Today, he was replaced by freshman Seaver Myers during 11-on-11's

-Der'rikk Thompson received compliments from Jason Phillips for his release but is still dropping way too many balls

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