There has not been this much buzz around Conference USA Media Day for SMU in a long time. If June Jones brings half as much success to the field as he has in pre-season excitement, Mustang fans could be in for a really fun season.
"My goals for this team are not in numbers. They're in learning how to win, learning how a team acts. Putting together those," stated Jones Sunday.
If learning how to win ball games is Jones first chore, it could be tough in a very talented Conference USA.
"This conference is very, very solid. Anybody can beat anybody on any given game day," Jones said. "There are two or three teams that might have a little bit higher talent level, but it looks like anybody can compete as long as you show up and play hard."
While the conference is strong, the "two or three teams that might have a bit higher talent level" are East Carolina, Central Florida and Tulsa. "East Carolina and Central Florida look strong. I was very impressed with the job they've done at Tulsa. They do a great job on defense, and they can move the ball on offense. Those three teams are the ones that kind of pop out."
Coach Jones was not the only one at the media day this weekend representing SMU. Defensive tackle Serge Elizee was asked to breakdown the progress the defense has made after struggling last fall.
"It looks like we completely took a 180 degree turn," Elizee said. "Everyone is swarming to the ball this spring. Our defense is going to be much faster. It looks like we will be ready to play."
After an injury-shortened season last fall, many people have questioned where DeMyron Martin will fit into the new offense that is known more for passing the football. The senior running back was the other Mustang player at media day and says that he has found his role.
"For the most part I'm the blocker," Martin said. "I will get my chances to touch the ball, and I will have to do the most with it during those times. I like blocking now, when I was younger I didn't like it as much. It makes you more of a man in my perspective, so I like it."
Jones and his troops won't have too much time to think about the conference race, the Mustangs open the season August 29, 2008 against Rice in league action. Camp begins in less than two weeks on August 3.
"We will have to be ready," Jones said. "Rice has a great quarterback and they will be ready to play, it will be an important game for both of us."