Having played in all 12 games last year as a redshirt freshman, Sophomore Pete Fleps is ready to take over the starting job for the Mustang defense this year. Playing weakside linebacker, Fleps, the Southlake Carroll product has added 7 pounds of lean mass to his frame, and is significantly stronger and faster this season.
To top it all off, Fleps also has the football IQ, the passion, and the desire to be successful at the linebacker position at this level.
Coming out of Southlake Carroll, the local perennial high school powerhouse, Fleps helped lead the team to a 31-1 record during his stint on varsity, including a win in the 2004 5A Division II state championship. Fleps is looking to carry this experience and winning attitude to an SMU program which has had trouble finding its winning ways recently. He believes a winning mindset starts with road victories.
"Bottom line is we have to win on the road if we want to be a successful team. That would be a major change from last year, and if you can't win on the road, you can't be a good team at this level."
Winning on the road in some of the tough stadiums of Conference USA can be a difficult task, but playing good, solid defense is the best asset a team can have on the road.
Coach June Jones comes into town, it is well known that defense appears not to be his top priority, but according to Fleps, it is the professionalism of Jones' staff that will help make this defense strong.
"The new staff brings such a professional aspect to the team that we were missing last year. Everything is more streamlined, and there is a different dynamic this season which makes us better as a team, and its more fun."
In order for any team defense to be successful, there must be cohesiveness as a unit because defense is such an instinctive, improvised side of the ball compared to offense.
"We're still getting used to some of the new schemes, but it's all coming together. More importantly, we are all coming together, and I think we are going to surprise a lot of people this season with our defense."
So if defense wins championships and offense gets the glory, which one will come true for the Mustangs this year?
"We know our offense is going to be strong, Coach Jones has a knack for that. If we want to win the conference or make a bowl game, it comes down to the defense. If this unit can play well, there are a lot of things this team can do, and I think it will be a fun season for the players and the fans alike."