HOUSTON – Bo Levi Mitchell didn't lose any ground in his progress as SMU's starting quarterback, even despite a rough first outing that included three interceptions. June Jones answered post-game questions regarding Mitchell's play with a calmness that exhibited he'll give the true freshman all the patience he requires as he adjusts to the college game.
Jones gave no indication he was up for changing starting quarterbacks, even as backup Logan Turner completed 5-of-6 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in his limited reserve role.
"Oh yeah, he'll start," Jones said of Mitchell for next Saturday's home opener against Texas State.
"(Mitchell) did some good things, but he had some unfortunate things happen too," Jones said. "The ball slipped out of his hand one time, and that got to him. He'll get better, he'll look at the tape and get better. I like his confidence. He threw some nice pases. He grew up real quick tonight. We just have to get better around him while he's still learning."
You could see Mitchell's confidence as he stood outside the locker room fielding questions from the media. He gave no indication of being shaken from the game, where he was 25-of-43 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. The three interceptions will haunt Mitchell and SMU for a while – the Mustangs' five turnovers were the difference-makers in Rice's 56-27 win – but Jones put no responsibility of the loss on Mitchell's play.
"Rice is a great team," Mitchell said. "They did a lot of things we were ready for, but we didn't produce. It's all about learning from your mistakes, and we'll address that this week." Mitchell was one of 20 players making their SMU debuts Friday.
Mitchell connected on many of the same passes that made him stand out in practice enough to win the starting job. If one game can indicate a trend, his favorite pass pattern appears to be the 10- to 15-yard crossing patterns. He hit Aldrick Robinson on such a pattern for a 26-yard touchdown to open SMU's scoring, and again to start the third quarter on a 22-yard pass. Mitchell found Emmanuel Sanders across the middle four times, part of Sanders' team-high eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.
The loss was Mitchell's first in Rice Stadium after rolling up a 4-0 record in high school playoff games there with nearby Katy High School.
"It wasn't much different tonight than it was in high school," Mitchell said. "As for the speed, it was easier tonight than our practices, to be honest. I just lost focus on some of my mechanics, and I'll learn from that. It's all about learning from your mistakes."