SMU hosts Texas A&M in match-up of old Southwest Conference foes
By Tommy Smith
The SMU Mustangs (1-1) will host former Southwest Conference and new SEC member Texas A&M (0-1) Saturday in the second of three consecutive home games. After losing to Baylor 59-24 in Waco to open the season, the Mustangs turned things around, and over, against Stephen F. Austin in a 52-0 blanking of the Lumberjacks at Ford Stadium.
The SMU defense forced a school record 10 turnovers including a Conference USA record seven interceptions. Junior defensive back Kenneth Acker received C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors, returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
The Aggies lost to Florida 20-17 in their Southeastern Conference debut at home last week. Texas A&M will be visiting SMU for the first time since 1992. The two schools have played 78 times, with A&M holding a (42-29-7) series edge, but played only twice since the Southwest Conference broke up in 1995. A&M is (10-0-1) in their last 11 games against the Mustangs. The Aggies last lost to SMU 28-20 in 1984.
Texas A&M is under the command of first year coach Kevin Sumlin, who left the helm at the University of Houston to take the Aggies job vacated by the dismissal of Mike Sherman. Sumlin owns a (38-18) career record as a coach, including (4-0) against SMU. While at UH, Sumlin led the Cougars to three bowl games.
June Jones is in his fifth season as coach of the Mustangs. Jones has taken SMU to three straight bowl games, winning two of them. The Mustangs are (25-29) all-time under Jones who has a (101-70) record as a collegiate coach.
SMU lost 46-14 to Texas A&M in their season opener last season. The Aggies intercepted SMU starting quarterback Kyle Padron on the Mustangs’ first two possessions, prompting Jones to pull Padron in favor of backup J.J. McDermott. Trailing 14-0, McDermott rallied SMU to a 20-14 deficit before the Aggies would score the next 26 points, putting the game out of reach.
Quarterback will be the position to watch in this year’s meeting as both schools have new signal callers this season. SMU is led by transfer Garrett Gilbert, who left the University of Texas after graduating with two years of eligibility remaining to start for the Mustangs. Gilbert is still making the adjustment to SMU’s run and shoot offense but has shown signs of buying into the system according to Jones. Gilbert threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns in the Mustangs’ loss to Baylor. The Aggies defense sacked the Gators quarterback eight times last week and will be a tremendous challenge for Gilbert and the SMU passing game.
Texas A&M started a freshman quarterback in their season opener for the first time since 1944. Johnny Manziel threw for 173 yards against Florida while rushing for 60 more and a touchdown. Manziel played well against Florida but A&M will be looking for more from the freshman against SMU.
SMU running back Zach Line leads the Mustangs rushing attack that must slow down the Aggies pass rush if the Mustangs are to stay close in this one. Line has 16 career 100 yard rushing games, including 128 yards and a score last season against the Aggies. Line’s two rushing touchdowns against SFA last week gave him 36 at SMU, which ranks third among active players.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 2:30 pm Central time and will be televised on FSN.