Defense puts in extra practice time Monday

The offense was long gone. And with it went practically all of the spectators at the SMU Mustangs' first fall practice under offensive guru June Jones. All that was left was the defense finishing up the last of its drills under new defensive coordinator Tom Mason and media members reporting on the unit.

The offense was long gone. And with it went practically all of the spectators at the SMU Mustangs' first fall practice under offensive guru June Jones. All that was left was the defense finishing up the last of its drills under new defensive coordinator Tom Mason and media members reporting on the unit. It is, therefore, not surprising that as soon as Mason dismissed the unit most of its members raced off Pettus Practice Field toward the comforts of Gerald Ford Stadium. Junior Bryan McCann, however, halted the over anxious Mustangs with a scream. He and fellow junior Rock Dennis insisted the freshman stay with them and participate in additional ball drills. The defensive back, who, along with Dennis, saw all of the first team repetitions, said part of the impetus for the impromptu drill was separating himself from the stereotype of older players who were unwilling to help younger players when he arrived on the Hilltop. "I want them to know we're here to help," he told PonyStampede.com Monday. "We want to work just as hard as we want them to work. "It's not like we're asking something of them that we won't go out and do ourselves." The drill was an added effort to improve a unit that finished second to last in Conference USA in scoring defense and only one spot higher in total defense last season. Yet McCann, the second leading returning tackler on the team, and the defense are determined to change that output as well as the perception of the unit as a weakness of the team. "Everybody's focused on the offense," he said. "We want to be known as the strength of the team too, so we're just working to get better." That will mean almost nothing but drills for the defense under Jones which is fine with McCann who said the team is able to touch the ball and practice making plays in drills. Yet the team expects to go hard after opponents on Saturdays. "We're looking more forward to making plays instead of sitting back and waiting on the offense to make a mistake," McCann said. "We're trying to go after them and force them to make a mistake." As Jones pointed out in his press conference Monday, that aggressive style of play will match up with the offense. And no one expects that to be a weakness.

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