Q&A with The Stable Sports on the SMU perspective
Here at JMUSB HQ, one of the best things about the FBS games every year is the chance to interact with “peers” that actually exist, meaning fanbases developed enough to have independent writers and bloggers providing their own version of what we try to do for our fellow Dukes instead of the afterthought programs we find littered around the CAA. And this year we were fortunate to connect with Joey Hayden of The Stable Sports to trade Q&A’s on the other side’s perspective. His answers make for great insight into SMU and even include some tips for this week’s game and another potential Dukes game in the Metroplex this season. You can still check out our answers to the SMU questions about JMU here. And we are thrilled to present the SMU version of our questions here. Happy reading and Go Dukes!
- How excited are Mustang fans with the start of the Chad Morris era? Combined with the Larry Brown investment, is SMU headed back to the Big12?
It’s incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more positive 1-2 start in my lifetime of watching SMU football. I have been genuinely (and pleasantly) surprised not only by the Mustangs play on the field so far this season, but the support from the fans. There was a reported sellout for the Baylor game, and another decent showing from students and fans against North Texas. It all stems from the work Coach Morris and his staff have put in since Day 1 of steeping foot in Dallas.
Unlike what my counterpart at The Stable, Jesse Carr, said in an interview with the TCU blog “Frogs O’ War” (shameless plug), no, I don’t see a move to the Big 12 coming any time soon. The Big 12 isn’t interested, the SMU fan base even inside the confines of Dallas is outnumbered by the fan bases of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, etc. They already own the market. SMU just doesn’t have the ability to push the monetary needle the Big 12 would be looking for right now.
- Who are SMU’s studs on each side of the ball?
No. 4 QB Matt Davis – in 3 games, almost 1,000 total yards and nine total touchdowns (five passing, four rushing)
No. 16 WR Courtland Sutton – 262 yards and has caught four of Matt Davis’ five touchdowns
No. 29 CB Darrion Richardson – leads the team in total tackles and pass breakups
No. 99 DE Justin Lawler – 2nd in total tackles, 2.5 sacks
- Early returns look really promising on this year in the AAC – do you think SMU can compete right now and do fans care about being in the AAC?
It’s tough to say how much the fans care about the conference, it’s still relatively new. That being said, it’s still a huge step up from the WAC/C-USA days. I think it matters a lot more during basketball season when we’re playing UConn, Memphis, and Temple than it does on the football field. The conference is off to a nice start, however. Navy, Houston, Temple, and Memphis are all still undefeated. Do I expect SMU to win a conference title this year? No. Do I expect them to be a tough, competitive matchup for every team they face? Definitely.
- On that note, do you think the AAC is done with realignment or who you see being involved in future movement in or out?
No, if this were baseball, I see the lower conferences as AA teams, the AAC is somewhere in the middle and could be considered the AAA step to the big league clubs of the Power 5 conferences. Navy is always interesting, UConn and Cincy are huge basketball schools that could potentially move if the opportunity presented itself. I don’t see a lot of stability in this conference, but who knows?
- We’ve heard it’s Homecoming week, does that mean a big crowd is expected?
*Big by whose standards? Alabama’s? Or SMU’s? After the absolutely pathetic showing from fans last year (granted for an absolutely pathetic team), anytime this stadium gets halfway to three-quarters full, I’d consider it a decent crowd.
- Has anyone ever heard of James Madison down there? On that note, how confident are SMU fans about this game?
My guess is no. My guess is people read the name James Madison and think, “Oh, some sub-level school they scheduled for Homecoming? We’ll roll over them.”
- Any pro tips you can give our fans for tailgate details (lots, rules, etc.) or local watering holes?
Tailgate – get there early, The Boulevard is a very serious ordeal and must be treated as such. Hopefully, you already know people who have a spot/tents on The Boulevard, otherwise, go make some new SMU friends. – Parking is just the lots/garages on campus, no real tricks there.
Watering holes – Hillcrest and SMU Blvd are two roads literally connected to campus filled with bars and restaurants. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a place.
- One thing that’s annoying as hell for our fanbase is JMU students, especially early in their college careers, that hang onto their daddies’ loyalty to UVa or Virginia Tech. We know about SMU’s infamous history and we assume fans of that era are loyal Mustangs, but has this been a problem with heavyweights like the Longhorns and Aggies casting such a long shadow the last twenty years or so?
Yeah, you could say we’re in similar boats, your situation being even tougher fighting the “FCS” stigma, at least our students can just hop onto another top level program. But even loyal SMU fans have struggled through the last quarter century of losing. Pro Football Hall of Famer and the face of the Pony Express Eric Dickerson said they should “just kill the program” in an interview last year if the administration couldn’t put the proper effort into the football team.
- SMU wins if…
We don’t look at the name on the front of the jersey, we don’t underestimate the opponent, and just play the way Chad Morris preaches every day in practice. In 2013, we played FCS-opponent Montana State in our second game, and it took a four yard touchdown pass from Garrett Gilbert to Darius Joseph with 12 seconds left to sneak out of our HOME stadium with a 31-30 victory. Montana State was the No. 3 team in the FCS at the time, so it could be a very similar situation to this weekend.
- Where the hell is Frisco since we plan on being down there come the first week of January?
About a 30-45 minute drive north of where you’ll be playing Saturday – depending on traffic.
Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas, it’s a really nice, still relatively new facility (with a much better parking situation than SMU).