Sometimes the best news out of practice is the one where there is no news. The Mustangs completed their next-to-last practice session of the preseason Friday without much to dwell on from an observer's point of view, and without any particular players standing out.
That's just fine with head coach June Jones, whose mantra of "repetition, repetition, repetition," also extends from the field into the post-practice media sessions. The only thing that appeared out of place was the appointed back-up, freshman quarterback Braden Smith not taking any snaps with the first offensive unit during the middle two hours of practice. Jones was quick to shrug away reading into any movement on the depth chart, as redshirt freshman Logan Turner took most of the snaps given to the No. 2 quarterback with the first unit.
"Their reps change every day," Jones said. "Nothing has changed in the order."
As for the quarterbacks, true freshman Bo Levi Mitchell was continually on-target with his receivers, showing the accuracy that helped him win the starting job. But the receivers had a difficult time hauling the ball in, as the catch corps had dozens of drops.
Friday was a day for the defense, which turned in one of its best days in generating turnovers. An estimate would be 8-10 interceptions turned in by the defense.
If there's a bright side for the defense at this stage, and you can choose from a few, it's the defense has stayed ahead of the offense the past two weeks and is coming up with plays working against a system is knows well from the other side of the ball. With Conference USA West Division rivals Tulsa, Houston, UTEP, and next Friday's opponent, Rice, using similar offenses, perhaps their work will prove fruitful when the hitting begins.
Mustang Legends for Charity eventReggie Dupard, a former Mustang running back whose statistical numbers are still in the record book, was a visitor at practice today. He was with a friend showing him Jones' wide-open style that, to the untrained eye, sometimes must be seen to be believed. Dupard is one of the guests at tomorrow night's Mustang Legends for Charity event at the Adolphus Hotel on Jones' invitation. "We started thinking about the event about a month after I got here, and I wanted the foundation to do something," Jones said. I started getting word out, and Jerry Ball (a former Mustang nose guard and NFL Pro-Bowler) called and of course E.D. (NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson) was on board, and we discussed what to do. "The consensus was that it seemed like everybody was locked into the past. They want to move on. I want to move on, and it's what (SMU athletic director) Steve Orsini wants to do. So we found a way with the foundation to hopefully get past all that."
Kick returner planning big seasonFifth-year senior Jessie Henderson has run the gamut of emotions during his seasons at SMU. Henderson, from Paris, Texas, has led the Mustangs in return yardage the past three seasons. Henderson is only 266 kickoff return yards away from passing Jonas Rutledge into the top spot for return yards in a career. Based on his career 25.5-per return average that ranks only behind SMU legend Doak Walker's 29.1, Henderson could break the record on his 11th return of the season. "We've tweaked the personnel a little bit, so I think we can do more with the returns this season," Henderson said. Henderson had his lowest per-return average last season, and it was the first of his three seasons that he didn't bring at least one kickoff back for a touchdown. He says he wants more, and says the impact of SMU special teams coach Frank Gansz will be seen immediately on the field. "It's just nice to have a special teams coach, but it's great to have him as a coach period," Henderson said. "He makes it fun out there. I wish we had him before."
Katy is already booked for Mitchell's debutMitchell returns to his hometown in Houston for his first career start next Friday, but will have only his most ardent supporters in tow at Rice Stadium. His high school alma mater, Katy, is also scheduled to play its opener the same night at Galena Park North Shore. Perhaps the cable operator in Katy will set a record for a TiVo'd game when the Katy fans return and watch their taped SMU-Rice game.