Series Record: SMU is 2-0 lifetime against UAB
The game is the first of three straight road games for SMU, which does not return home to Gerald J. Ford Stadium for 35 days.
The game will feature the Offensive and Defensive Conference USA Players of the Week. SMU safety Rock Dennis was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, while UAB's Joe Webb was tabbed the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week.
SMU's June Jones: is in his second season at the SMU helm. His SMU record is 2-11 and his career mark is now 78-52. 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.
UAB's Neil Callaway: is in his third year at the Blazers' helm. He is 7-18 in two-plus seasons in Birmingham. Callaway, who most recently had been the offensive coordinator at the University of Georgia for the previous six seasons, became the third head coach in the history of the UAB football program.
Mustangs Try For 2-0 Against AUB
By George Brown
After winning their first season opener since 2000, June Jones and the Mustangs try for their first conference win in two seasons on Saturday against UAB.
Shawnbrey McNeal hopes to extend last week's strong performance against a Blazer defense that displayed serious holes last season, as well as allowing 391 yards of total offense to suffering Rice offensive last week. McNeal enters the game ranked fourth in the nation with a 158 yard-per-game rushing average. Bo Levi Mitchell will continue simply focus on minimizing mistakes and improving over a solid performance against the Lumberjacks.
The defense will have to contain one of the most talented dual-threat QBs in college. Senior Joe Webb is an early contender for C-USA player of the year and, with his strong ability to run as well as throw, hope to have another productive game after he played a role in four first half touchdowns in UAB's win over Rice.
Like SMU, the Blazers have struggled over the past few seasons, but are looking at the 2009 season as a turning point in their gridiron woes. With a win over Joe Webb and UAB, SMU would feel a comfortable boost in confidence, going 2-0 for the first time since 1996.
More about UAB
-In the first week of the season, QB Joe Webb registered the second-best individual performance na¬tionally in three categories: Rushing Yds (194), Total Offense (415) and Passing Efficiency (247.8).
-UAB is one of two FBS teams in the country that will open its season with a pair of conference games. Miami (Fla.) is the other school; in fact, the Hurricanes' first THREE games are against confer¬ence (ACC) opponents.
-Going back to last season, UAB went six quarters (15-0 shutout over UCF and first two quarters vs. Rice) without allowing a touchdown before the Owls got in the end zone in the third quarter Saturday.
-UAB's Frantrell Forrest has already surpassed the 1,000-mark in career receiving yards. Forrest now has 1,163 receiving yards after two seasons and one contest in 2009. He will continue his climb up UAB's all-time chart for receiving yards. In Saturday's season opener against Rice, Forrest caught four passes for 64 yards with a pair of touchdowns on tosses of 9 and 22 yards from quarterback Joe Webb
Coach June Jones Q&A (9-10-09)
First can you give us a little update on the flu? How are guys recovering? ]
"We had a couple guys that were missing this morning that haven't checked with the trainer yet. I think a couple guys have come back, but a couple who are not here today. Hopefully we are not going to be depleted to much.
Can you talk about Sterling Moore. He had a great performance against SFA and played very well in the week leading up to the game Bell was on the mend. Will he be starting this week?
"I see that he earned his way to play a lot more. He is a competitive kid and that is how football is. Sometimes you get your opportunity when someone goes down and it's your job to not let that guy back in there. He had a heck of a game and has had a great camp. We liked him on his film in JC, so I'm really happy for him."
Defensively you had a lot of turnovers, but what would you like to see the defensive do a little bit better this week?
"I would like to score when we get those turnovers. (Laughter) Defensively we are going to have to stop the run. This quarterback is something special. He is 6'4, 230, and runs a 4.5. We are going to have to tackle him and run to the ball. He is a big play guy. I think they want to be a run team. They are willing to pass the ball and take their shots down the field, but if you ask them, they want to run the football."
Is it good to have a conference game this early?
"I would like to have some time, especially when you're in the situation that we are in where you haven't been winning on a consistent basis. You would like to have some games to get under your belt. You have to do what you have to do. This is the hand we were dealt, so we need to go play and play well."
Was Bo Levi Mitchell fighting the flu as well Saturday?
"Yeah he was fighting it, but he played on through it. Even Monday he was looking like he was suffering from it. He fought on through it. We need him to play consistent on Saturday. I think that we are better offensively than we were last year and now we have to take it from practices to the game."
UAB seemed to win pretty easily, but in the second half they gave up some points to Rice. What did the Owls do in the second half?
"They got into their system and rotated quarterbacks. The biggest thing is they stuck with their system. They are a young team and the more they play together, the better they are going to get. They kept playing the game like it was nothing to nothing, and tried to get better."
What did you see over the week in practices that stood out?
"I think the defensive is starting to believe in themselves. They are really starting to come together as a group. We are really thin are the defensive line, but hopefully we will have the guys just stay in there and compete. The guys are having to do what they have to do to play the game."
Coach Callaway Q&A
On the upcoming game with SMU: Saturday's win is behind us. We'll move on to the next game. It's a home game again and another conference game. I think you would prefer not to open with conference games so you have a chance to get some of the kinks worked out, but we're excited about playing SMU at home at Legion Field.
SMU has a four-wideout offense where they throw the ball a good bit. They have a running back (Shawnbrey McNeal) that transferred from Miami who has made them a little more potent, offensively. June (Jones) does a great job. They're always going to be demanding on you, defensively. Our defense is going to have quite a challenge.
Looking at their defense, they've changed gears. They've gone from a four-man front to primarily a three-man front. They're bringing more pressure. The first thing I noticed when I turned on the film was their defense was flying around and swarming to the football.
On Saturday's win over Rice: We're very happy with the win. We're excited for the players, the staff and the University. At the same time, I think there were a lot of things we can learn from. The most disappointing thing to me was the kicking game. Nobody has spent as much time on the kicking game as we have, but I thought we were poor in that area as far as covering kicks and the return game.
We also had four false start penalties, offensively, and two offsides, defensively, which are inexcusable. We had a couple issues defensively getting the right personnel in the game, and offensively at the end of the game, we couldn't get lined up right, had to call a timeout, and then got called for a delay of game penalty.
On defensive stands in the first quarter against Rice: They go down there and knock on the door twice. Bryant Turner blocks a field goal, which was huge, and the next series down there, Chase Daniel intercepts a pass to keep them out of the end zone. Starting off like that defensively gave us a lot of momentum and really got us going.
Just because someone gets in the red zone doesn't mean they have to score. I think it was huge for our defense to stop them from scoring. It felt like a big momentum shift to me when we blocked that field goal. Our first drive offensively, we were three and out, had a bad snap on the punt and a bad punt. But, defensively, we stepped up and answered the bell.
On Joe Webb being named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week: I think it's a great honor for Joe. Obviously, he's a great athlete, a great guy and does a lot for this football team. We ask a lot out of him, and he responds. I'm not only happy and proud of him for the type of football player he is but also for the type of young man he is. He's a first class guy, and we're extremely happy for him. He's very deserving.
On finding more offensive weapons: It was a good start for Joe. He wound up with over 400 yards of total offense. We still have to get better at the running back spot to help him. If we can do that, I think we'll be a hard offense to deal with. But if we continue to rely on Joe Webb for everything, people can do things to shut that down.
On the contributions of newcomers: I'm happy that a lot of them played well. Hiram Atwater at safety made some plays. Darrion Wilson made some plays as did Derek Slaughter and Patrick Bastien. There were a lot guys defensively that contributed. Offensively, Nick Adams had a big play on the long catch, but he had one heck of a block, too, on a run play that was probably the highlight of the game for me. So the new guys contributed well, and hopefully we'll continue to get better and better.
On the confidence level of his team: I certainly think Saturday's win helped. Going back to last year, we kind of did some things late to get on a roll, so hopefully we're continuing on from that. I think the confidence of this football team right now is pretty good, but we better be careful because you're only as good as your last outing. Saturday's game is over, and we have to get ready for the next one.
Week 1 highlights: