FREE: SFA VS SMU PREVIEW

The SMU Mustangs open year two of the June Jones era by hosting the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks for "Sellout 2009" this Saturday. Come inside PonyStampede.com to get a full report on the Lumberjacks!

Stephen F. Austin at SMU, 7 p.m. Saturday


Series Record: Teams have never met


SMU Series Openers: SMU is looking for their first season opening win since 2000.

SFA Series Openers:The Lumberjacks are 45-32-5 (.579) all-time in season open­ers, but have dropped three of the last four.


SMU's June Jones: is in his second season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 1-11 and his career mark is now 77-52. Jones went 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, leading the Warriors to the All-State Sugar Bowl in 2007. Prior to heading to Hawaii, Jones had a 12-year coaching career in the NFL, including head coaching stops at Atlanta and San Diego.

SFA's J.C. Harper: became the 18th head coach of the SFA Lumberjack football team in December, 2006. Harper spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach. He is 4-19 (.174) during his time at SFA. SMU head coach June Jones is in his second season with the Mustangs' program, after a nine-year stint at Hawaii where he rebuilt the Warrior's program into national prominence.


SMU LOOKS TO START SEASON IN THE WIN COLUMN
BY George Brown- PonyStampede.com contributor


With a year under June Jones' belt as SMU's head coach, the Mustangs hope to manage a mistake free opening game against Stephan F. Austin, and start the season at 1-0. SMU struggled with Jones' complicated offensive scheme in 2008, winning only one game, but 2009 hopes to show promise for a dramatic turn around that Jones is best known for.

SMU's only win last year was against Division 1AA Texas State. With Stephan F. Austin being the sole Division IAA team on the Mustang's schedule this year, this game is more crucial than would appear on the surface.

SMU is less concerned with the Lumberjack's defensive plan than they are with the Mustangs retooled offense. Their hope is that their sophomore QB, Bo Levi Mitchell, can calm down in the pocket and bring his interception count down from last year.

A more accurate passing game should birth a more productive running game. Junior Zach Line, Bryce Lunday, and possibly Shawnbrey McNeal hopes to energize an otherwise stale running game, whose leading rusher in 2008, Andrew McKinney, only rushed for 190 yards in the season.

The defense brings back seven starters. But bringing back seven men to a defense that allowed 480 yards a game last season, including allowing Texas State to score 36 points, could still be a weakness.

With a road game against UAB the following week, their game against SFA could be a great confidence booster before playing one of the weaker conference games on the road.



Coach Jones Q&A:


What most impresses you most about SFA junior quarterback Jeremy Moses, who set NCAA records last year with 57 completions on 85 attempts against Sam Houston State?

" He fires it around the field, that's for sure. They've got some speed. He gets around. He's definitely a Mike Leach kind of product. He throws the ball and it'll go anywhere. And he stays within their system. He's not a real runner, but he can run a little bit.

We're hoping that we can contain the receivers. They've got a pretty quick running back and we know that they're going to make some plays. We've just got to make more plays. We've got to knock the ball out, we've got to get some turnovers and we've got to create diversions. Put them in long-yardage situations.

They have an advantage in that they play against this offense all the time. ... It's one of those games that might last until one in the morning. Who knows?"

How is Miami transfer running back Shawnbrey McNeal handling the wait on word from the NCAA?

"I think he's been doing alright. He's a hard worker. He's a very conscientious guy. I've really got a fondness for him. He's a good person and he's had a tough go in his background. He's got a smile on his face. He's serious about practice and loves the game of football."


More about SFA:

1.) They returns the heart of a defense that led the Southland Conference, and was among the na­tion's leaders, in sacks (2.67 pg) last season. The Lumberjacks return preseason All-American Tim Knicky who was among the nation's top 10 in sacks (12) and tackles for losses (20.5) in 2008.

2.) Junior Jeremy Moses returns to lead one of the top offenses in the nation for 1AA schools. Moses is one of nine returning letterwinners that returns from a 2008 season that saw SFA set numerous school and conference records last season, including a new NCAA mark for pass attempts (85), and comple­tions (57) at Sam Houston State. The 'Jacks led the Southland Conference averaging 345.8 pass­ing yards per game.

3.)They also return a ton of talent at the receiver position. Senior Duane Brooks returns from a 2008 season that saw him set a single-season school record for receptions (68) despite missing two games with and injury. Brooks was named 2008 league newcomer of the year for his efforts on the field. Along with Brooks SFA also returns classmate Contrevious Parks who was an honorable mention All-America selection last season.

4.)The 2009 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team added speed to its receiver corps, and secondary, while bulking up its offensive line with the addition of four FBS transfers. The Lumberjacks now have seven NCAA Division I-FBS transfers on the roster.

Alvin Blackmon WR, 5-11, 185, Corinth (Purdue)
Larry Bradley OL, 6-2, 305, Fr., Maimi, Fla. (Oklahoma)
D'Kendrick Washington DB, 6-1, 185, Mansfield (Baylor)
•Michael Williams DB, 6-1, 175, Beaumont (Baylor)



J.C. HARPER QUOTES

On his overall impression of fall camp …
"I really feel good about our preseason camp. The most important thing is that we are healthy. Any time you come out of camp healthy, and ready to go it is always a positive. I was also real happy with what I saw from some of our young guys in the secondary as well."

Regarding the upcoming game at SMU …
"Offensively, SMU is very similar to what we run. Our defense is familiar with a lot of what they do because of what they face everyday in practice. I expect SMU to be a little faster. They return two outstanding receivers who are very talented. I'm really impressed with what I see out of their quarterback. He does very good job of running their offense. It will be a great challenge for us. We have a lot of kids from the Dallas area so we're excited about going their to play."




Pony Stampede Top Stories