SMU HC Chad Morris Q&A
SMU QB Matt Davis Q&A
SMU DE Zach Wood Q&A
Q: Is the pace for you guys fun and exciting? ZW: Yeah it’s a lot of fun. Compared to last year with slow huddles, guys just go go go, and you have to get a new guy in because you’re exhausted. I’m loving it. It’s not just us putting in the work. The equipment guys are out there hustling around, and getting yelled at. They might as well put some pads on and be on the team.
Q: How are you feeling physically after the spring conditioning program? ZW: Not so bad, the coaches are doing a really good job of getting us in shape. I thought we’d come up here and put the pads on and be sore. I’m tired, but I can recover really quickly, get back out there, and do what I need to do.
Q: What are some of the changes in this defense compared to last year? ZW: Well the biggest thing I think is the four-man front. We had a three-man front, but we really didn’t have the guys for that kind of scheme. We have some speedy and athletic guys, and with that four-man front, it’ll make the biggest difference getting to the pass rusher and getting to the quarterback.
Q: Are you a better fit in the four-man front? ZW: Oh yeah.
Q: Is that what you played in high school? ZW: I was actually a nose guard in high school, but now double-teaming every play is alright with me. I’ll do that all day.
Q: What’s Coach Wyatt like as a teacher? ZW: He’s good. He doesn’t really coach on the field, not that he’s not going to coach on the field. He’ll tell you what you need to do, but he’s mostly to hype you up, to get you going and hustling. If you need help, he’ll help you.
Q: What does it mean to have the support from the community showing up to Saturday practice? ZW: It’s a huge difference. It’s good for us, it’s like a confidence boost. With the whole 1-11 season, there’s barely anybody in the stands, and you just go out there like ‘man this is rough.’ With people coming out to practice and looking excited to be there, it helps us out because it gives us some confidence.
Q: You talked about how much faster it is. Coach Morris said this isn’t the speed he wants yet. Is it going to be harder on the offense or the defense to survive that pace? ZW: I think it will be hard on both. Nobody is really used to that. The last couple of years we didn’t have a pace like that, and it’s going to take some getting used to, but the good thing is that we’re going faster and faster. We’re going to build, we’re going to get in shape, and we’ll be fine.
Q: As one of the seniors, what is it like to kind of have the responsibility to help the staff push the new era and push the vision on some of the younger guys? ZW: I really haven’t had to help. They have done a really good job. The young guys are all in. I really haven’t had to say anything. If we did need something to say, we’d jump them, but not like fight them. We’d get onto them, and tell them let’s go we have something to do here, we’re trying to accomplish something. They don’t talk back. They’d get with the program and they’re ready to go.
Q: Just to have everything new after last year, you guys wanted to get the taste of that season out. How much has that helped having a clean slate going into this year? ZW: I actually think having that season will benefit us more. We had that taste in our mouths, and that’s not going to go away until we’re done with this season and we have a winning record. That made us hungry for all of this discipline and accountability. We’re ready to go. We’re ramped up, and we want to win some games this year.
Q: How weird is it to be actually hitting this early in practice? You were doing the Oklahoma drill out there. How is your body reacting to it? ZW: I’m definitely not used to it, but I love hitting. I hated the past couple of years where we just stood around most of the time. Now we’re moving around and hitting. Everybody I’ve talked to said they could have done the Oklahoma drill all practice, and I agree. It’s a fun deal.
Tempo, tempo, tempoChad Morris said after practice that in the last five minutes of his last practice at Clemson, the team ran 29 plays. Today, Morris' offense ran 18. One group of offensive players would run a play and as soon as the play was over, Morris was spotting the ball himself and the next group was up. Organized chaos is the best way to describe it. Coaches were yelling at players to get out and get moving so the next group could run their play. SMU will certainly get to that speed Morris wants soon, but it's a work in progress of course.
QuarterbacksMatt Davis, Darrel Colbert and Ben Hicks appear to be getting the most reps with Jordan Severt working in as well at times. Davis, looks comfortable in the system, making the right reads and displaying much better down the field accuracy. The quarterbacks did struggle a bit in 7 on 7, but during team, they looked a little more comfortable. Ben Hicks throws a different ball down the field than Davis and Colbert. Hicks' flight trajectory is much lower and struggled on deep routes at times. Hicks did make some solid reads though and delivered some strikes over the middle. Colbert had a real solid day of practice today. We haven't seen anything from Colbert since last year and it appears he's fitting in nicely to the new system.
Offensive LineCoach Dustin Fry had the OL working on everything today. The group went through fundamentals and foot work, and also worked a lot on their pass protection. The team worked against the defensive line in a drill called mystery rush where Fry picked a defensive lineman to rush and didn't tell the offensive line who was rushing. Zach Wood looked impressive rushing the passer and showed off an improved spin move during the drill. Chauncey Briggs and Taylor Lasecki held their own against the defensive line while Kris Weeks and Daniel McCarty got pushed around some. During the full-go team drills, the defensive line was able to penetrate the OL and get into the backfield. Overall, the offensive line has a ton of work to do before the start of the season. Most importantly, they need to learn to work together as a unit so that they can rely on each other for help. You could tell the tempo was getting to some of the line late in practice.
DefenseThe players were pumped for the first practice, with Jarvis Pruitt having a hit during the Oklahoma drill that led to some players getting heated up. Horace Richardson received praise for having his hands up when working on rushing the quarterback. Jonathan Yenga tipped a ball that was almost intercepted by Anthony Rhone. Ajee Montes narrowly missed a diving interception in the endzone. The entire defense prevented both Matt Davis and Darrel Colbert from passing multiple times during 7-on-7 drills. Kyran Mitchell forced a fumble and recovered it during 7-on-7. Derek Longoria tipped a pass from Darrel Colbert. Kyran Mitchell would have sacked Darrel Colbert if quarterbacks were allowed to be hit. Jordan Wyatt intercepted Darrel Colbert. Shakiel Randolph would have sacked Matt Davis if quarterbacks were allowed to be hit.
Practice Quick Hits— Former SMU players Margus Hunt, Cole Loftin, Taylor Reed, Bryce Lunday, Pete Fleps and Blake McJunkin were at practice today.
— During Oklahoma drills, there were two groups set. One would go and then right away the other side would go for a rep. There were three levels of the drill, O-line vs. D-line and receivers vs. defensive backs. The running backs would then try to get through three levels of tacklers and score.
— Today was the first day of padded practice and a few scuffles broke out, but nothing major.
— Courtland Sutton is listed at 202, but is definitely 215-220 and was all over the field. He was a threat deep and had defenders hanging all over him, but still made the catch multiple times.
— Ace Holleman and Ryheem Malone had a few drops today, but Malone made some great moves in the open field with the ball.
— William Jeanlys looks much bigger and got plenty of reps.
— Horace Richardson made a nice play on a bubble screen to intercept a pass intended for Malone.
— Nick Horton, Courtland Sutton, K.C. Nlemchi and Zach Wood really stand out as players benefitting from the new strength program.
— Spencer Hollie is listed at 350 pounds and a lot of that is muscle. Hollie was pushing around a lot of the SMU offensive linemen.
— Derek Longoria made a great tackle on a pass to the flats.
— Recruits and their families watched a video on the field from Ford Stadium after practice of Coach Morris talking about the change that is coming to the program, and how dedicated this staff is to changing the environment around the program.