SMU head coach June Jones was kind, almost forgiving, to the Mustangs' defense during his weekly press conference Monday.
The defense did what it takes to win games, he said, coming up with five takeaways and making enough stops to get SMU's offense back on the field.
"It's hard to stop anyone anymore in college football," Jones said. "What you have to do to win is get the ball back, get turnovers, and take advantage of other teams' mistakes. You have to get sacks and create opportunities for yourself.
"We had a chance to get turnovers against Rice and didn't do it. That was the difference down there. We got some early against Texas State, and it made the difference here too."
SMU got takeaways on Texas State's first four possessions -- three fumble recoveries and an interception – and turned them into four scoring chances and a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. It missed a field goal following one of the turnovers.
Turnovers will be a key again Saturday when SMU (1-1) goes to Lubbock to take on 12th-ranked Texas Tech.
"We're a long way away from being good enough to match up with Tech," Jones said. "There are a lot of things to overcome."
Defense was the primary concern for SMU after allowing 36 points to Texas State without forcing them to punt.
The takeaways were bright spots, but TSU still out-gained the Mustangs 465-431 and ran 24 more plays, buoyed by the Bobcats converting 12 of 15 third-down conversions.
"We have specific things in mind to do defensively against Tech, but if I told them to you I'd have to kill you," Jones said, joking along with a reporter. "Both of our teams are used to seeing the spread offense on the other side of the ball. So we're both familiar with how to play each others' schemes."
Jones and Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach have traded notes on their versions of the spread offense multiple times.
The first was when Jones was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Leach was coaching at nearby Valdosta State, an NCAA Division II powerhouse. Jones said they spoke again last year while Tech was preparing for a game against an opponent Jones was familiar with.
"For Tech defensively, they seem to be running a bend-but-don't-break philosophy, and it's worked," Jones said. "They don't beat themselves, and they've had success against two teams, Eastern Washington and Nevada, that a lot of people don't know about but that spread the field a lot and test you."
Texas Tech has won 12 straight in the series dating back to 1989.