SMU HC Chad Morris
SMU DC Van Malone
Other Malone soundbites from an exclusive interview with Scout on Friday:
On the defense's growth through camp: "I tell you what, from the start of camp till now, I've seen us grow tremendously. We've got a lot of young players we're throwing out there. A lot of first timers and even guys in different positions so to watch their growth is good. I said at the start of camp, what I want to see is us come out and practice with great intensity and effort. I saw that for the most part in fall camp. It wasn't always lollipops and happy days, but overall, we were impressed with what these guys did from an effort and attention to detail standpoint."
What position he feels is really strong right now: "The d-line over the course of camp and barring injury, has a chance to be our best group and the linebackers. Of course, being a secondary coach, I'm going to say the secondary is the worst I've ever seen, but those guys are working hard as well. If I had to choose a group that has really been impressive by their work and things they've done since camp started, it'd be the d-line"
On South Carolina transfer Deon Green: "Wow. He's been a guy that brings a tremendous amount of maturity, his experience playing has helped our guys in many ways. No he hasn't been a superstar coming here, but he's been a mature, solid guy coming here. He's got his act together academically and as a person so he's come in and been a role model for our guys — plus, he has a great personality and we've got him for two years. We're excited about that."
On Missouri transfer David Johnson: "Same thing (as Green). When you get transfers, you just don't know, but those two guys have come in and by their personality alone and their demeanor, they've done a great job and we couldn't be more excited to have them on the team. Can't wait to come into their own because when you've got a guy who transfers, he's almost like a freshman in many ways. He's just trying to find the library and where he gets his ankles taped, but once he figures it out, his career can take off and leadership on our team can really go to another level."
On freshmen standing out: "They've all been freshmen, but really been impressed with LB Matt McNew. That's also one of our stronger groups, but his vision and instincts have really been impressive. Chris Biggurs, who's probably going to redshirt, but have really been impressed with him as well. He has the misfourtune of being in a d-line group that really has a lot of good players. All of them have really shown spurts of growth, but those two have probably been the most impressive."
SMU OC Joe Craddock
SMU DB Shakiel Randolph
Q: Does this week feel any different than going into the Baylor game a year ago?
A: In my perspective, it definitely does. This is my last go around. I wouldn’t want to go out any other way than with a victory in this first game. It seemed like just yesterday we were coming in the door playing Baylor. Now, you know, I’m on the end of it. This is my senior year playing against Baylor, so it feels a little different.
Q: How would you like to see the student turnout on Friday?
A: I believe turnout is going to be phenomenal just because we’re playing Baylor, the number four team in the country. One thing I would love to see is the energy. From a player perspective, it means a little bit more when you have people in the stands roaring and yelling. It gets you going. It gets that adrenaline going.
Q: What have you seen from these freshmen that are going to be out on the field?
A: Like I said, they’re athletic. I’ve been really pleased with their work ethic and all those things that kind of remind me of me when I was coming up as a freshman. They have a lot of energy, and like I said, I can’t commend them on their work ethic enough because they’re with me after practice so I believe it’s going to pay off when the game comes. I just tell them don’t make this game any more difficult than it is. It’s just football, you’ve been playing since you were eight years old. Don’t make it more difficult than it is.
Q: How was the atmosphere this year compared to last year going into the first game?
A: From my perspective, there’s a little more energy. Like I said, the energy is always up the first game just because it’s the first game of the season. Everybody’s excited to see what SMU is going to do. The energy is stepped up a little bit this year just because of the uncertainty of the coaching staff. People want to see what the new coaching staff has been doing with us.
Q: Coach Malone was showing off a little bit of his sense of humor. What has he provided as a defensive coordinator?
A: They’ve made the playbook simpler. When it’s simpler it allows you to just go play. When you’re not thinking it allows you to play faster. Coach Malone has a great sense of humor. We’re out there on the field joking and laughing. It’s business but football is fun. They’re bringing that fun back to football, but don’t get that wrong. The fun is in the winning, so we don’t get that twisted.
Q: How do you think the coaches feel about their first SMU home game?
A: I assume they’re excited, just like we are. I imagine the night before they’re going to be restless just like we are, because it’s a first. Anytime it’s a first, you’re going to have a little nerves but also a lot of excitement. They’ve been coaching for quite a while as well, so I assume they’re not going to make it more than it is, just like I was telling the freshmen earlier, don’t make it more than it is. This is football, this is something they’ve done their whole lives, so I assume there’s going to be a lot of excitement.
SMU QB Matt Davis
Q: Are you ready to go for Friday?
A: Yes sir, definitely. I’ve been working really hard.
Q: How have things gone for the offense? What is the biggest difference this year?
A: Things went really, really well. The transition for coach Jones’ offense to coach Morris’ offense was really good. We’ve worked really hard and these coaches have coached us up and put us in a position to understand everything conceptually. We know what’s expected of us from them. They hold high standards. I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job right now.
Q: What’s the biggest change in the offense scheme wise?
A: We’re definitely focusing a lot on establishing a run game, that’s one thing we didn’t focus on that too much last year. We’re still going to throw the ball a good amount, but we know the importance of establishing a run game, so that’s one thing I look forward to doing as well.
Q: Is the goal to not have you lead the team in rushing?
A: Yeah that’s what coach Morris said. I’m going to do my best to not do that.
Q: Is the quarterback run game going to be a big part of what you are doing?
A: I’m sure that coach Morris has some things in there to get me out on the edge. A lot of times last year there weren’t necessarily designed runs until the latter part of the season at Uconn I think. Sometimes the pocket just breaks down or we see a coverage that permits a run-through. I’m just trying to take advantage of my abilities and try to limit myself and give my team the best opportunity to make a change.
Q: Now when you guys played Baylor last year, were you hurt early on?
A: I wasn’t hurt. I separated my shoulder the next game. I bruised my ribs against Baylor, but nothing too significant.
Q: What do you guys think about playing [Baylor]? Do you like that challenge?
A: It’s a great opportunity. I think at this time it doesn’t matter if it’s Baylor or a high school team, we’re just ready to start hitting somebody besides ourselves. We’ve been going against the same people for the past 30 days and all summer it was the same exact people, so it’ll be nice to have another opponent and play a game that means something. It’s not a practice, we’re not going to go out there and do up-downs for you. It’s either a win or a loss. It’s something we’re looking forward to. Baylor’s a great opponent, so we’re looking forward to that as well.
Q: Do you go into the season looking at potential win-loss records, or are you too tuned into the first game?
A: We’re definitely focused on one game at a time. It sounds cliché and everybody says it, but that’s the focus we have. We look out the windshield and we see Baylor, and after Baylor we’ll see North Texas. Right now, we’re more concentrated on SMU than anybody else. If we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be alright every game.
Q: Can you take any motivation from last year at all, and say ‘hey we need to redeem ourselves’ or anything like that?
A: To a certain extent. You don’t want to focus on the past too much; you know the past is the past. We’re glad it’s there and we’re going to leave it there. You definitely remember that taste you had in your mouth from losing 11 games. We try to focus on what we have in front of us. We feel like we have a really bright future. The coaches are putting us in a position, and we’re trying to do everything they say, just filling out the framework.
Q: You did so much at the end of the year. How much did that help you going into this year?
A: It was good to get some game experience. I think I started the last five games. It was good to just get on the field and get my feet wet. I red shirted my first year or school and played the next year at junior college, so that was my first official season in division one football, besides practicing, so those game were really good for me to develop my skills and I feel like the game is slowing a lot for me now, which is an exciting thing for me, and I’m seeing things a lot better so those games were really significant in helping me move forward as a player.
Q: Do you know a lot of the Baylor guys?
A: I know a few of them. One of them went to [Texas] A&M with me, and he transferred, he’s a year younger than me. Ishmael Wilson, he plays offensive line. Corey Coleman is a good friend of mine. We played on an all-star 7 on 7 tournament called Gridiron Kings for ESPN our junior year. So I know a few guys over there. They’re good guys and good players.
Q: You’re faster than Corey, right?
A: Corey is blazing fast. I don’t think I’m faster than him.
Q: You guys are 34-point underdogs. Do you guys take offense to that? Do you understand why that is, and how do you approach it?
A: I’m just glad paper doesn’t play football. Everybody has their opinions on things, and that’s good. I don’t really feel the need to take offense. They had a great season last season and they have a lot of returning starters. There are many reasons to try to make the case for that, but we don’t pay really attention to that. They’re going to put 11 guys on the field; we’re going to put 11 guys on the field and we’re going to battle.
Baylor HC Art Briles Presser NotesOn playing old SWC foes: "It's gigantic. The thing I was thinking about a couple days ago was 20 years ago it would have been conference and Baylor and SMU were in the SWC. We also play Rice, which is an old SWC foe so it's kind of neat. I grew up in the SWC days so it brings back a lot of memories, but it's also tough. It's tough from the standpoint of playing an in-state university it adds a little bit because we all know each other and the players know eachother. There's more intensity involved so it adds to the makeup of the game. It's neat to reconnect no question."
On if it's easier preparing for SMU after playing them or is it tougher because you don't know what to expect: "I think the second part. I have a lot of respect for Chad and what he's done. He's kind of come up through the same cloth as I have. He did a great job at Tulsa, Clemson and everywhere he's been. We know they're going to be a hyped up football team. New scheme, new team and new era so you don't ever like opening up on the road and you certainly don't like opening against a new scheme so we're just going to have to get into the game and see what's happening and adjust as we go along. The good thing is we have a really good football team. That's the part that gives us a little more comfort on this end. It's not like we're taking a young football team into an environment they haven't been in."
Assesment of QB Seth Russell: "We're extremely confident. He hasn't done anything to disprove anything that anyone thinks about him and that he's a great leader and teammate and he's a guy that can get the job done for us. The good thing is that he's got really good people around him and a really strong defensive team. He doesn't have to drive the car. He can just sit back and relax because it's rolling and he's gotta make sure to buckle up and be safe."
What are your concerns with this team: "Anytime you start a team, you have concerns. There's predictions and prognosticators, but there's always unknowns. Our concerns are a team are to be a clean football team. Our penalties have been bothersome the last couple years. Just be a little more dominant in areas where we feel like we can be more dominant and this year, that's offensive line and defensive line because we've got four or five back and everyone back along the defensive line. That's the areas we feel really dominant and good about. There's always unknowns and we'll continue to address them."