Everybody knows that June Jones is an offensive genius. Just google "June Jones" + "offensive genius" and see all the hits come up. So let's assume that the Mustangs will eventually have a team capable of putting bunches of points on the board, an assumption that wasn't refuted in SMU's season-opening loss to Rice.
So how will the Ponies become winners? Will it be by just simply outscoring its opponents? You might be tempted to believe in this theory if you were a follower of Jones' Hawaii teams for the past nine years because that was often the Warriors formula for success.
"To me all the games are the same," Jones said this week. "Everyone is a dogfight. You hold on to your rear end and try to score enough points to win the game."
Jones, however, believes that the "last man standing when the smoke clears" has more to do with much bigger trends than just his personal coaching philosophy. Texas Tech, for example, takes no prisoners. "There are lots of teams, like Rice for instance, that you are never going to really shut down," Jones said.
Jones promised that defense would be a priority this week at SMU's practices. At the beginning of the week, he said that the defense would improve quickly as coaches worked on "alignments and assignments." Installing a new defense, perhaps, takes longer than implementing the run-and-shoot.
In addition to the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty of coaching a defense to be better, Jones does have a philosophy for that other side of the ball. He believes in turnovers and sacks; Jones craves the big plays.
"You aren't going to stop these offenses," Jones said. "You better get some losses, you better get some sacks, you better get some interceptions, or you are going to be in for a long night."
According to Jones, his Ponies were closer than you might think to being the kind of defense it takes to win collegiate games. Despite giving up 56 points, Jones was encouraged by how close SMU was to creating several turnovers. "We had three interceptions in our hands just dropped them," Jones said.
If you want to see how Jones wants his defense to work, review the work of the SMU specialty teams against Rice. The Mustangs routinely work on stripping the ball loose on kick returns and the drills paid off against the Owls with two fumble recoveries.
Jones believes that when the Mustangs start accumulating turnovers, they will start piling up Ws in the standings.
"Every game comes down to a few plays," Jones says. "The second we start making the big play, it will start snowballing."