June Jones is known for having great offenses, to be successful at SMU the offensive genius will also have to become defensive.
Jones turned to long time defensive coordinator Tom Mason, who has spent the last several years as the linebacker coach at Fresno State to handle the Mustangs defense.
Mason is excited about his first spring on the Hilltop and feels that he witnessed a lot of progress over the spring season for his new defensive unit.
"I have no complaints," Mason told PonyStampede.com last week. "They picked up the defensive package a lot better than I expected."
According to Mason, the Mustangs will continue to play a 4-3 defense, but that is where the similarities stop.
"It's a lot different style of defense," senior defensive lineman Serge Elizee said. "It's still the 4-3, a lot different blitzes and a new mentality."
According to Coach Mason he has given the defense two goals to accomplish for the fall season.
"We have to play fast and finish hard," Mason said. "Our defensive philosophy will rely on 100% speed."
Mason spent most of the spring getting to know his players and seeing what playmakers he had to build a package around.
"Brian McCann has great speed," Mason said. "Justin Smart did a great job, he can really fly, and he fits our defensive style. Serge got big time talents we just have to figure out how to get it out of him all the time."
Mason also is working on changing the mentality of the players on the defensive side of the ball.
"We are definitely changing the mentality of the defense," Mason said. "We don't believe in bend and don't break anymore. We are either going to make the tackle or we are going to break big time. We will force the issue a lot more with blitzing. We will be a pressure defense."
Mason was pleased with his players' attitudes and work ethics.
"I felt the kids bought into what we are doing," Mason said. "They did everything we asked of them and had a great attitude about while doing it. They responded really well to how we coached them."
A strength of the defensive unit this year according to Coach Mason will be the depth on the defensive front.
"That will definitely be one of our strengths," Mason explained. "We have to establish ourselves as an aggressive defense."