Tap the Boulevard is an SMU Football Blog, A Beer Blog, A Baseball Blog, A Music Blog, basically a blog about everything that makes life worth living. So sit back, relax, crack a cold one and enjoy our incoherent ramblings and gratuitous movie quotes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Updates All Around

Greetings and salutations to all in Mustang Nation who have been coming to this blog everyday for three weeks and pining for new content. We have a lot of ground to cover with this post, so let's get to it, shall we?

The month of October has been no kinder to Mustang football than was the month of September. In fact, with heartbreaking losses to undefeated Tulsa and underachieving Houston, this month has been decidedly harsh to Pony fans. The Mustangs, in the words of Tulsa coach Todd Graham, "smacked us [Tulsa] in the mouth". If not for a dropped pass in the endzone by freshman Cole Beasley, the Mustangs would have recaptured the lead late. Shortly thereafter, Mitchell underthrew a 4th and 2 pass to Emmanuel Sanders that would have given the Ponies a new set of downs inside the Tulsa red zone. The defense, which has undoubtedly struggled all season, managed to hold the number 2 offense in the country down for most of the game, but simply could not close the deal and the Mustangs fell 37-31.

The following week, the Ponies hosted UH at Ford Stadium. The Cougars were actually making their second trip of the year to Dallas, having their home game against Air Force relocated to Ford Stadium on campus in September when Hurricane Ike pounded the city of Houston and the Gulf Coast. From the beginning, the Cougars displayed signs of sloppiness, by committing two personal foul penalties on the opening drive, which allowed Bo Levi Mitchell and the Mustang Offense to get on the board first. The Cougars would respond as SMU's defense was simply unable to stop Case Keenum and the Cougar Offense. This inability to halt UH on 3rd down would manifest itself again on the game's final drive, where the Cougars--without timeouts--managed to drive from their own 40 into SMU's red zone--after a kickoff by the normally reliable Kellis Cunningham that went out of bounds.

The truth of the matter is that everytime a lead was built by Bo Levi and the offense, the defense would allow the Cougars back into the game. No lead seemed to be safe. I remarked to Ty that I would not feel comfortable until the Mustangs were up by at least 3 TD and preferably 4. This was, of course, not to be. For every mental mistake UH made, SMU was there to match; including an inexcusable roughing the passer penalty on 3rd and long in the late 3rd quarter. Not even a heroic goal line stand by the defense--UH would still kick a field goal to chip further into the lead--could provide sufficient fire to the front line. Serge Elizee was injured in the 3rd quarter and never returned. Youri Yenga was also injured in the 3rd and returned, only to reinjure himself during UH's last drive with 1:17 left in the game which in turn forced an official time out so that Yenga could be helped off the field.

It is a difficult thing to describe what it is like to be an SMU fan. It is close to impossible for those who have not experienced it, to realize the simultaneous feelings of disbelief, yet expectation. The best way I can think of to describe it is re-watching a war movie where we know the main character is going to die in a gruesome and/or heartbreaking manner, but watching it happen still inspires utter shock and yet just as immediate acceptance.

Looking to the future, the Mustangs will attempt to salvage this season with a few wins to close out and build momentum for next year. Homecoming next Saturday (11/8) against a streaky Memphis team provides an opportunity to get back on track. Following this are enigmatic UTEP (which dropped 50+ points on UCF, but also surrendered 77 to Tulsa) and finally a rebuilding Southern Miss team. It is not impossible to end the season on a 3 game winning streak, particularly since the offense appears more and more to be on the same page (the Navy game and its abominable weather excluded).

This is a pretty long post, so I will wrap it up and write about other subjects which I had intended to write about this evening, on another day. Since I will be at a Halloween party tonight--getting thoroughly drunk--I doubt I will be posting again until Sunday or Monday. I may convince Ty to throw something out there, but I am not even sure he exists anymore since he has not written anything since late August. Hey, maybe he is in another country and has not seen the Ponies's season. Perhaps he is still thinking we partially fulfilled his season predictions....8 wins? Really Ty?

I will have posts on new beer and politics coming up in the next couple of days. No I will not be dogmatically reciting my personal beliefs (you're disappointed I can tell), rather I will be previewing the upcoming election. I encourage everyone, regardless of your political beliefs or preferences, to go out and vote next Tuesday (11/4). Afterall, if you do not vote, you are not allowed to complain.

Until next time, go Mustangs and vote for Kodos. Kang is too inexperienced for me....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yes We're Still Here...

It's been a busy couple of weeks for both Ty and myself, but there is a new blog entry coming this week. In it, I will update the Mustangs season of 'progress', some political thoughts, and have a review of Budweiser's new American Ale (Shiner Bock should consider sueing for copyright infringement).

Until then, go Mustangs.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Still Waiting for that Second Win

Does anyone find it odd that every single final score for the Mustangs this year has ended in 7? 27, 47, 7, 7, and 27 against Rice, Texas State, Texas Tech, TCU, and Tulane respectively. I was not really going anywhere with that, just thought it was interesting.

Other thing interesting things: the Mustangs were 2-12 on third down against Tulane last Thursday, but 2-2 on fourth down. Green Wave QB Kevin Moore had 2 fewer passing yards than Bo Levi Mitchell on 2 fewer completions with 20 fewer attempts.

The Run N Shoot is designed for short quick passes where the receiver makes plays after the catch (the unfortunately named statistic of YAC-Yards After Catch) and Mitchell's numbers seem to show what we have presumed all along and that commenters on Ponyfans need to remember: that June Jones is still installing his offense one game at a time. Mitchell seems to be getting into a rhythm. Remember that Hawaii QB Timmy Chang said that he did not fully get a grip on the offense until the end of his first season. Mitchell made strides in the second half against Tulane, leading the Mustangs on four scoring drives (2 FG in the 3rd quarter and 2 TD in the 4th quarter) to bring them to within one score while the defense finally showed flashes of brilliance and held the Green Wave offense to a single second half field goal.

Expect more from Mitchell this Saturday as the Mustangs travel to Orlando to play a seriously depleted (mostly by graduation) Central Florida team that gave up 58 points and 284 passing yards to a UTEP offense that has had problems getting off the ground and has lost to such luminaries as Buffalo and New Mexico State so far this season. If Mitchell and the receivers are finally on the same page, this could finally be the game where the offense breaks through and takes the pressure off of the defense.

June Jones teams are designed to rely on the offense to make quick scores throughout the game which allows the defense to play from ahead and be aggressive. When the offense is sputtering, the defense is on the field more and has to fall back to a cushion coverage defense instead of the aggressive, blitzing unit that Tom Mason has in mind. In other words, other than Texas State, the Mustangs have not been able to stick to their game plan this season. All rests on the offense performing well and if it fails to, this defense is simply not good enough to hold back the tide. We have seen this in the losses to Rice, Tech, and TCU.

But against a UCF offense that has not figured out its identity yet this season (24 points in an OT loss to South Florida is the high mark to this point), I would expect Tom Mason to finally unroll more blitz packages as the secondary should be able to defend against George O'Leary's offense. As has been the case almost every week so far, the Mustang linebackers will need to step up and help defend against the run this week or the quality of our secondary's defense will not be worth a Beta jersey at McCartney's (it's a greek joke...because Beta was, you know, kicked off campus...*cough*).

I do not usually do predictions (how's that 8-4 season prediction working out for you Ty?) because trying to foretell how this team will continue to develop is both frustrating and ultimately pointless since the first year of a rebuilding job is usually the diciest one. That being said, I'm going to predict that the Mustangs pull out win number 2 on the season: 38-21 over UCF.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Short TCU recap and Tulane Preview

I am not going to write much of a recap of the TCU game because, well what is there to say about a 48-7 ass kicking where Bo Levi had, amongst other unfortunate plays, a 2 yard forward shovel pass intercepted by a TCU lineman. That play pretty much summed up the offensive futility of the game.

TCU's defense was the fastest that Bo Levi (who actually wasn't completely terrible: 20-36 218 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) and the offensive linemen had seen to this point in the season and the experience of last saturday shows that there is still much work to do. The line, which performed well against Rice, Texas State, and decently against Texas Tech, was simply overmatched against TCU. Let's hope the offensive units gained valuable experience in this game, because there were otherwise not many positives to take away from the field.

The defense could not get pressure on the QB and Andy Dalton, consequently, had a great game (16-25, 210 yards 0 TD, 0 INT). TCU tailbacks Aaron Brown--who very conveniently had his 4 game suspension reduced to 3 by coach Gary Patterson the week before the game--Jospeh Turner, and Marcus Jackson ran through the huge gaps made by TCU's offensive line as if our defense was not even there. At one point I found myself hoping that the defense would call "All Out!" and stack the box against Dalton just to create some entertainment, but then I remembered how much that play was lampooned on Sportscenter last year.

In short, the TCU game is a game that's probably best forgotten about until the Mustangs have more success.

Moving right along. The Mustangs play Tulane in New Orleans tonight on the CBS College Sports channel. I'll be following the game online (because I'm too cheap for digital cable) once I get home from flag football. This is a very winnable game as Tulane's offense is now anemic with the loss of Mike Forté (he of the 342 yard performance against the Ponies in Dallas last season). The linebackers will have to step up to support the defensive line against the run because Tulane QB Kevin Moore (730 yards passing, 2 TD, 3 INT on the season) does not look to be passing as much. Of course Tulane did not pass much last year and they still ran over the defense, so we shall see how much of an advantage that plays out to be.

That's all for now. I'll have something about the ending of the Astros season in a day or so once they are mathematically eliminated from the Wild Card race (3.5 games back as of today). Until then, Go Mustangs and let's please God get another W.

Friday, September 19, 2008

TCU Preview

It is Family Weekend here on the Hilltop and the Ponies welcome the deformed, blood shooting lizards of TCU to Ford Stadium for the latest installment in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. SMU memorably won the Iron Skillet in 2005 by defeating TCU 21-10 at Ford Stadium just one week after TCU had garnered national headlines for upsetting Oklahoma.

The Ponies and Frogs did not meet in 2006, so SMU got to hold onto the Skillet for one extra year only to see it relinquished in a frustrating struggle in Fort Worth last season. Anyone who went to the game--which I did--remembers clearly the frustration coming from the hideously bad officiating and equally horrendous clock management by Coach Bennett and company. The game was winnable and remained close late due to several red zone stops and forced turnovers by the defense.

The defense this year has been as disappointingly painful to watch as last year's was. TCU, however, may be without the service of leading running back Aaron Brown who was suspended by Gary Pitstains, er, Patterson for the first four games of this season for violation of team rules. Coupled with the fact that Andy Dalton has not exactly been lighting the world on fire with his passing ability, the defense could catch a break finally this week and get its act together.

TCU's Offensive line is not made up of the same behemoths that Texas Tech's is (one of the starting guards on Tech was 6-7, 305 lbs....were he painted green I would've expected him to be selling canned vegetables), but they are also quicker laterally. The pass rush, which has been spearheaded mostly by Youri Yenga, will have to adjust accordingly. The linebackers will have to step up this week and provide support against the run, which TCU is sure to ram down the D's throat all game.

Bo Levi Mitchell, as Ramon Flanigan suggested this week in his column for ponyfans.com, will have to forget about his horrendous perfomance against Tech, trust his talent, and focus on TCU. Mitchell's ability to do just that takes on added importance because TCU's defense will be the best Mitchell and the young offense have faced thus far this year. In their first 3 games this season, TCU has allowed 3, 7, and 14 points. Now these are hardly BCS teams that TCU has faced so far (New Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, and Stanford), but these games show that the TCU defense has skill. Bo Levi will have to maintain his patience and not make the same terrible decisions that killed him at Rice and Texas Tech.

The battle to watch will be up front. Center Mitch Enright, who missed last week's game against Tech due to a hand injury may be out again this week. If so, freshman Blake McJunkin will be snapping the ball to Bo Levi. McJunkin acquitted himself quite well in his first NCAA game, but the front 4 of TCU will be the fastest, most talented defensive line he has faced yet. DeMyron Martin will need to continue his excellent blocking work, but also needs to be more aggressive in his runs. DeMyron: you're 6-2 and 230 lbs., stop tiptoeing around tackles and run people over.

This game could truly go either way. If the defense is able to get key stops, force a few turnovers and otherwise get Bo Levi and the offense back on the field, then the Mustangs could pull off the victory. But if the defense falters again and Bo Levi isn't able to get into a rhythm, then it will be a long night of staring at ugly purple people.

Ty and I will be on the Boulevard once again, drinking the High Life and sitting in the shade at our shared tailgating spot by Cockrell. Come by and have a beer with us.

Go Mustangs, fry the froggies!

Astros Baseball, feel the Excitement...

Sweet Christ it happened again: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280918128.

Since Hurricane Ike, the Astros are now 0-5, have not scored more than 2 runs in a game (and they only did that once) and have been no-hit.

Please God make it stop.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baseball: Hurricane Ike screws over the Astros

As most of you know by now, Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas coastline near Houston last Friday night/Saturday morning (Houston residents Mother and Brother Fletch are ok). The night before, Roy Oswalt had continued his scoreless innings streak and the Stros smacked Pittsburgh 6-0. Then Ike hit Houston like he thought it was Tina.

The Astros cancelled Friday and Saturday night games against the Cubs and then moved up to Milwauke--where the crowd was decidedly partisan for the 'Away' team. (Milwaukee is only an hour and a half away from Chicago dontcha know: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl)--to get the series completed at a 'neutral' site. The result of this quick two game series? The Astros were no hit by internet porn addict Carlos Zambrano in the first game and nearly no-hit by Ted Lilly in the second game (both losses).

The Astros are now in Miami for a three game series with the Marlins. How have the first two games gone you ask? Losses of 5-1 and 14-2.

I think it is quite clear that the Astros--winners of 14 of their last 15 prior to Ike, 0-4 since--tightened up over the two day break. Baseball players hardly ever get two days off in the midst of the season. This unscheduled short vacation caused late season muscles to tighten up and hitters' timing to go AWOL.

Our offense has been good, if inconsistent, over the course of the season and our pitching has never been great. Even Roy Oswalt started slowly before he reeled off 33 1/3 scoreless innings just before the two day Ike instituted vacation (breaking J.R. Richard's record from 1980). So the very last thing the Astros needed was a couple of days to realize that they were playing above their abilities, that they were overachieving.

In short I blame you Ike! Je accuse!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tech Recap: It could have been much worse

For those of you who do not think that that game could have easily been a much bigger blowout, I submit to you the fact that despite handing Tech the ball twice in a row in the first quarter, Harrell and company were only able to muster a field goal. The Ponies' defense held back the tide as long as they could, but in the end Mike Leach's offense and the Mustangs' continued inability to complete tackles led to the game becoming a rout.

Some positives to ponder over this week as the Mustangs prepare to play TCU: Derrius Bell looked good covering the Raiders uber receiver Michael Crabtree for awhile. Bell is not on the same talent level as McCann, but he has learned to reduce the cushion he gives receivers and has improved his timing on hits. The other item of note on defense was how often the lineman--led as usual by Youri Yenga--got to Graham Harrell. Even Patrick Fleming, who doesn't play often, managed to slip past one of Tech's ginormous (and slow) O linemen...that is before he inadvertantly but brutally facemasked Harrell. That bodes well for the TCU game.

On offense there were actually positive aspects too. Yes, there were. You just have to look real hard. As far as Bo Levi goes, it bears repeating that he is a true freshman who was only playing his 3rd collegiate game. He will grow and he will learn. I like to think that, in two years when Bo Levi is featured in some nationally televised game where SMU is winning by 5 touchdowns, that the camera will pan in on him and the announcer will talk about how far Bo Levi has come since he threw 5 interceptions in one game two years prior. One can hope.

The Offense line has continued to excel. It's time to heap praise on Dennis McKnight. He has done an outstanding job of molding a young, inexperienced unit into a cohesive, effective protection front. In case you had not noticed, true freshman Blake McJunkin started in place of junior Mitch Enright (for reasons I still have not heard) and performed admirably, with the exception of two poor snaps that caused Bo Levi to fumble with the ball rather than look downfield for his receivers. Tennyson and Beachum have continued to improve and Vincent Chase has transitioned well from tight end to right tackle. The quarterbacks and receivers will eventually get on the same page, but it will help them get there much faster with a solid line protecting Bo Levi and giving him time to make reads. The future is bright for the Ponies' front 5.

The Mustangs face TCU this Saturday at Ford Stadium. Ty and I will be out on the Boulevard in our usual spot in front of Cockrell-McIntosh (or Cocomo to those in the know) tailgating and drinking the Champagne of Beers. If anyone outside our immediate circle of friends reads this blog, feel free to stop by our tent. It's the huge white one that looks like it could double as a carport.

And no, I do not want to talk about the Astros being forced to postpone Friday and Saturday's games against the Cubs only to go to Milwaukee (a neutral site? fuck that, it might as well have been played in Wrigley. A truly neutral site would've been Seattle) and be no-hit by Carlos "I swear I got tendinitis in my elbow from emailing my brother and not looking at internet porn" Zambrano.

Until Saturday, Go Mustangs, Go Astros, and fuck the Cubs (and Horned Frogs).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Texas State Recap and Other Notes

See? All we had to do is be patient and June Jones would reward us with a win. Granted the win was over FCS team Texas State and the Mustang defense still allowed 36 points and 465 yards of offense, but a win is a win and I'll take it.

Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 370 yards, had no interceptions and 5 (yes five) TD passes. Emanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson both had over 100 yards receiving and 3 and 2 TD catches respectively. As Sanders said after the game "It's going to be scary when we get better". So as in sync as the offense looked on Saturday, there is still room for improvement. Bo is still overthrowing a little and his timing with some receivers (like Wilkerson) is a bit off, but that will come with time. Sanders and Robinson also made him look good on some catches that were thrown down by the hip or short, but I also noticed that Bo Levi was throwing it away from the defenders: either a Mustang was going to catch it or no one was for the most part. This is markedly different from the second half against Rice when Bo floated too many passes and allowed himself to get careless in his decision making. Let's hope he shows further improvement next week becuase Texas Tech's backs are on a different level than those of Texas State.

Another interesting development, was the use of Justin Willis as an option-running QB on a couple short yardage situations in the first half. Are the Mustangs going to do the vogue thing and start instituting a direct snap formation too? Time will tell. I certainly support the idea as Justin was always a better runner than passer.

All in all, a good performance by the Mustangs. The defense still has a long way to go, but we in Pony Nation should keep in mind that this defense was never meant to shut down the other team's offense. Tom Mason's defense is designed to make aggressive plays and either force turnovers or allow big plays. While turnovers are of course preferred, the general concept is that any play that gets the offense back on the field that much faster is acceptable. This is a different style of defense than what we as fans were used to under Phil Bennett, where the idea was to stop the other team in its tracks (with varying degrees of success as Bennett's 18-52 record demonstrates). This type of defense takes an adjustment of expectations by us the fans. Big plays will happen, but we have to have faith in our offense, and so by extension June Jones, to keep us in the game.

In other news, the Astros took 2 of 3 from the Rockies over the weekend and are only 6 back in the Wild Card race. Hunter Pence continued his torrid pace, hitting his 21st home run on Saturday and Roy Oswalt threw a one hitter the same night. The bad news: Brandon Backe and Wandy Rodriguez both injured themselves. Better to have this happen after September callups when the roster is at 40 players I suppose, but it is still a rough break.

I also tried with Ty a beer I'd never had before call Steam Engine Amber. It proudly boasts on the can that it is the best American Style Amber Lager in the world. It had notes of fruit and an excellent nose to it. Very solid beer, but more research is necessary.

We'll have more entries this week as we face the spectre that is Texas Tech this weekend. Until then, go Mustangs and go Astros (and the Rangers too I guess).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Home Kickoff Tomorrow and Baseball notes

The Mustangs kick off their home opener Saturday night at Ford Stadium at 7 pm against Texas State (no Ty, not the Armadillos ). This game, against a Division 1-AA--or FCS or whatever it's called--opponent should help Bo Levi and company get on the same page with the offense while the defense will hopefully get it's footing against the Bobcats. The Tech game, afterall, is looming next weekend and so a confidence/experience boosting game against a lesser team this weekend takes on added importance. As previously mentioned, Ty and I will be on the Boulevard experimenting with powering a TV using a deep cycle marine battery (should be interesting...).

In the meantime, the Astros wrapped up a three game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley on Wednesday. In three games the Stros outscored the Cubs 16-7 (all seven of those runs game in the second game of the series) and the first and third games were punctuated with great pitching performances from Roy 'Where has this been all season' Oswalt and Randy 'So that's why we traded for him' Wolf. The Astros now have an 8 game winning streak and, dare I say it, are starting to move into the NL Wild Card picture. The odds of winding up in the playoffs are of course pretty low, but considering that with 74 wins, the Stros have already topped their win total from last year, this must be considered a successful season for Cecil Cooper and company. What does this mean for next season when everyone on an already not young team will be a year older? Eh, we'll see...

I'll be recapping the Texas State game on Sunday or Monday again. Until then, see you on the Boulevard.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rice Recap: It wasn't really that bad guys...

Ok, so naturally we were hoping for a better debut than a 56-27 defeat doled out by Rice. The score and the loss notwithstanding, there are some positives to take away from last Friday's game. One thing is certain, the new uniforms are kick ass.

First of all the, offensive line held up well in its first game. No one is going to confuse Rice's defensive line with a bunch of Reggie White clones, but given that Chase was playing a new position, Tennyson, Boyd, and Beachum were all in their first collegiate games, the line performed as well as could be expected of it. Dennis McKnight has done well at folding two returning starters (Enright and Lobo) in with a converted TE (Chase), a returning reserve (Poynter) and a mixture of red shirt and true freshmen (Beachum, Tennyson, Boyd). The real test is still two weeks away when the Ponies play Texas Tech, but the early results are good. I also thought DeMyron and McKinney blocked well and seemed to fit their new roles nicely. DeMyron was always a tailback to be used on occasion--his performance against TCU in 2005 aside. I think he'll flourish in this offense, particularly as the QB (be it Bo Levi, Turner, or whoever) gets more comfortable in the offense as well.

Bo Levi Mitchell...He's a freshman who was making his first start ever at the collegiate level. What did we expect? The picks were bad decisions made based on fatigue. Not much to add to that except that he will get better. Logan Turner looked great in his brief time in at QB. His arm slot when throwing is remeniscent of Vince Young during his UT days. I sincerely doubt Turner has anything like Young's mobility though. Prove me wrong Logan!

The defense was....well it was a familiar sight unfortunately. McCann shut down Jarret Dillard in the first half for the most part, only to have the Rice coaches move Dillard to the other side where he was just too much for Derrius Bell. McCann, who played well all game, until the fourth quarter when, after having his great play pointed out by the ESPN crew, he was immediately owned by Dillard on a slant through the end zone...thanks ESPN guys (who the hell were those guys by the way?) The pass rush still needs some work. Elizee was double teamed by the Rice O line all night and so couldn't get to Clement (other than the one side swipe in which Clement appeared to hurt his hand). Dizer, Sowe and Handy were all fighting the humidty induced cramping. Dizer already had hammy issues coming into the game and his mobility wasn't helped by the amount of moisture and heat in the air. Rock Dennis is going to be good. You heard it here first. He needs to get a little more discipline though (the hit out of bounds was a major mental error which gave Rice even more momentum). It was also good to see Banjo get some playing time.

Sanders looked great and Robinson has great promise (Aldrick if it hits both of your hands that you mean you should have caught it). If there was any doubt that they will put up huge Crabtreean numbers in this system, then Friday night put away those doubts. It's going to be fun and frustrating to see this offense continue to develop.

The Mustangs welcome Texas State to Ford Stadium this Saturday. Ty and I will be on the Boulevard tailgating. I'm looking forward to seeing those new home uniforms. In the meantime, everyone stay patient with this team and with JJ.

Friday, August 29, 2008


It's Game Day!

After suffering through a drought of winless seasons for the past 20 years it all gets turned around tonight. Although I will be in the wretched land of aggie all weekend and miss the opener (hoping to catch the 2nd half somewhere in College Station tonight) I will be blasting Pony Battle Cry all the way down 45, hopefully they can hear me in the disgusting city of Houston.... Go Ponies

Beat the Hell Out of Rice...

pony up...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Only hours away...

Genuine giddiness and excitement have taken over. I'll barely be paying attention at work tomorrow. I'll likely be on ponyfans most of the day. The June Jones era begins Friday night on ESPN at 7pm.

I'll be watching with some friends on a big screen. Ty--because he's married to an Aggie--will be heading to College Station and will likely miss most of the first half. The poor bastard.

Anyway, we'll both have a recap of the game on either Sunday or Monday.

In unrelated news, the Astros beat the Reds Thursday and Roy Oswalt got the win. Now wins for pitchers is one of the most absurdly overrated stats in baseball (WHIP and K/9 innings are much better indicators of a pitcher's worth to his team), but Oswalt is 22-1 against the Reds in his career. Try and digest that for a moment: his record is not filled with no decisions...he's 22-1! That's utter domination.

Food for thought as we try not to watch the clock and count the minutes until kickoff.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ballad of June Jones

New York City comedy group and SMU alumni The Knuckleheads have a new song for the 2008 Ponies. Check them out at www.theknuckleheads.net 4 days...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ty's Extra Special Season Preview

First of all let me commend my friend Irwin on the excellent and in depth post below mine, he dug deep looking at the ponies strength and weaknesses this year, but what he failed to to do....what he was too scared to do was give you a game by game prediction. Now Irwin, anybody can throw out random numbers that sound about right but that doesn't give us any fodder for the season when I can bash you for thinking Navy will be a loss. So without further adue Ty Webb's 2008 SMU Football prediction.

@ Rice- W now the ponies haven't beat the owls in many a year in H-Town but I feel it this year, even with an inexperienced Freshman QB and new system the Ponies take this one. It also helps that the entire owl team has decided to grow mustaches...while I commend them on this feat, all ponyfans know what this mean simple math will help me explain Owls = Mustache = Phil Bennett = Loss.

Tex St- W It's texas state, if i remember correctly they too were once handed the death penalty and were only brought back to life by Sinbad and the guy from Quantum Leap...they did have a nice Kicker though

@ Tech - L This will be the longest game in NCAA History, I think we'll be able to hang a little while but those 7ft 400 lb lineman Leach has been growing out there will prevent our D from really disrupting their O. I also predict that during this game due to the sheer volume of passes being thrown Mike Leach is hit in the eye by a ball but is not mad because he finally gets to wear an eyepatch for real

TCU-- W this might be my loyalty getting the best of me but i just can't pick the toads to beat us in Dallas. 3 years ago was one of the greatest games I've ever witnessed. 4 games into the new system I hope we are hitting on all cylinders

Tulane- W As long as June and the boys don't have too much fun the night before I see this is a win, why is this game on a weeknight, a perfectly good road trip wasted

@ UCF L we had to stumble some time and orlando is where it happens. The team is Bored into a loss here, yes they have disney but why go to florida if there is now beach

Tulsa -L we'll lose one at home and Tulsa is the team that will do it, they gotten better the past few years, we always play them well, but they take it this year.

Houston W --- I also hate Houston, everything about it the school, the football team, the city, the weather, the lack of any zoning, it doesn't help that I was once accosted at a Stop N Go there but I used my Superior intellect to both confuse and distract my accoster...anyways i don't know why everyone is fearing Houston this year, Close game but we take it.\

@ Navy W Wish I could go to this game, it will be a good game but the run and Shoot will be clicking at this point and we will tear up there secondary...they can run all day but the pass wins out today. Plus they lost Paul Johnson

Memphis W Its homecoming, It's Memphis that spell WIN. Love the music, Love the BBQ but today memphis will sing the blues

UTEP L I also dislike UTEP for some unknown reason, I don't think i've ever been to el paso and you know what....i'm fine with that, however the ponies have to go and it just won't be our day.

So Miss W Back at home a few days after thanksgiving and ponyfans finally have something to be thankful for our first Bowl invitation in 20 odd years.

So my regular season optimistic pure homer prediction is 8- 4

I will say though a lot of these games could go any way, but thats how it always goes for the ponies a play here or a play there, we're just not use to getting those plays here, it happens this year finally.

Pony Up

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2008 Season Preview

Yesterday was the Annual Kickoff Luncheon at the massive Hilton Anatole, south of downtown. I did not get to attend because of work and because I do not have the same connections and know how that Ty does. But that certainly will not prevent me from talking up the luncheon, analyzing the depth chart and previewing the upcoming season.

There was a feeling of genuine excitement for the upcoming season (this I gleaned from listening to the audio) and with new uniforms (available here: http://smumustangs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/070208aaa.html, though I hear they look better in person), new personnel, new schemes on both sides of the ball, and a new coach it is not hard to understand why things are looking up in Pony nation. June Jones has mentioned several times that this year is a stepping stone. It would be, in my opinion, unreasonable for us Pony fans to expect a 9-3 team to emerge this coming year. The schedule features difficult road games (Navy in Annapolis in October? ouch) and matchups against teams that we haven't quite figured out how to play against (e.g. Tech).

There is also going to be lots of freshmen getting regular playing time; not the least of whom is Bo Levi Mitchell at QB.

Just prior to the luncheon yesterday, Jones and his coaching staff released his first depth chart (available here: http://www.ponyfans.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=33874). Notable as much for the names not on it as for those that are, this first glance at the rotations on both sides of the ball give us insight into what kind of player JJ and his staff favor and who is making the most progress in position development. June Jones is definitely a coach who believes in the players he brings in. This combined, with the Mustangs lack of depth at some positions (ahem, O-line) means that lots of true freshmen and players coming off of red shirt years will be thrust into starting roles.

DeMyron Martin and Andrew McKinney are both large for tailbacks and will be good blockers out of the backfield for Mitchell. They will both be an asset for an offensive line that faces a steep learning curve (I'll get to that in a minute). DeMyron has good enough hands and speed to move into the slot receiver position on occasion too.

Sean Lobo and Mitch Enright will be returning at LG and Center respectively. They should provide a steady, experienced influence on the other three positions. Josh LeRibeus should get good time behind Lobo and freshmen Zach Boyd should get lots of time backing up the inexperienced Bryce Tennison at RG in what may turn into a platoon situation as the season progresses. The tackles are intriguing in that Tommy Poynter barely beat out Kelvin Beachum Jr. for the LT position while converted TE Vincent Chase (who has hopefully bulked up in the off season) will try to anchor the right side of the line. Both ends of the line will have to capitalize on the experience they get early in the season from lesser opponents Rice and Texas State before meetings with physically more gifted defensive teams in Texas Tech, TCU, UCF and UH.

The receiving corps is not surprising. Emmanuel Sanders should continue his ascent to greatness in June Jones's pass happy Run N' Shoot offense. Aldrick Robinson will get his first serious playing time this year and should develop into a nice target for Bo Levi Mitchell. Personally, I would like to see E.J. Drewery (all 6-6, 210 lbs. of him) get some time in at receiver. His height gives him a built in advantage over half of the defensive backs in Conference USA. He is not listed on the depth chart currently, and this could be that the coaching staff believes that he needs some seasoning. But I would love to see him get playing time during the season to see what he can do.

On defense, the line was weakened by the graduation of Corey Muse. The starters on each end this year--Anthony Sowe and Adrian Dizer--will have a tall order against teams like Tech whose offensive linemen average 300 lbs. and provide a nearly impenetrable wall for Graham Harrell. Serge Elizee, who was a beast already, according to reports has made even more of his 300 lb. frame into muscle. Elizee, who will be lining up next to Patrick Handy at DT, gained lots of experience last year and I expect him to be the anchor on defense. Youri Yenga, who I think is better fit at LB due to his size, will be switching out with Dizer on one end while freshman Taylor Thompson will back up Sowe. Thompson was a TE in high school and his position on the depth chart speaks once again to the Ponies' lack of depth up front.

Will Bonilla will lead the linebackers from the strong side. Bonilla is slightly undersize for a LB, but his speed, instincts, and ability to finish tackles put him on the watch list for the Butkus Award this season. Justin Smart, who filled in at DE during the injury filled season last year, has moved back to his natural position of MLB. Jason Jackson mans the weakside on the first team. Julian Herron, Pete Fleps, and OSU transfer Alex Odiari should get into lots of games too at LB.

For the first time in years, the secondary has a chance to be a strength for SMU. Brian McCann looks to continue his development as a great coverage corner while Derrius Bell will be the other starting DB. McCann has been mentioned as one of the players with NFL quality talent on this team and his natural ability (the fumbled pick 6 last year not withstanding) has never been in doubt. McCann does need to improve his tackling though as far too many receivers were able to slip out of his grasp last year. Rock Dennis, who missed last year due to injury, will be able to provide coverage help to McCann and Bell that was missing last year. True freshman Chris Banjo should get into games at Free Safety behind starter Tyler Jones. Banjo was one of JJ's prime recruiting pickups in February.

Finally special teams (yes I am going for longest post ever). Thomas Morstead, who is already being looked at by NFL scouts, will handle punting and placekicking duties again this year. With June Jones's habitual dislike of punting, he may not amass as many attempts as last season (and who really wants him to?), but hopefully he will make up for this by increasing the amount of extra points he has to kick. Kellis Cunningham will handle kickoffs again while Jesse Henderson will be the prime kick returner. Punt returns, which were handled occasionally by Emmanuel "I don't know how to call a fair catch" Sanders last season, will be taken by Cole Beasely and Bryan McCann. Coach Frank Gansz has emphasized improved blocking and coverage on punts and kickoffs in spring and fall practice. I think our special teams will be improved based purely upon the fact that we finally have a coach who is devoted to special teams play. That also means no swinging gate for you Phil Bennett fans out there.

So the schedule: Rice and Texas State are both very beatable. Texas Tech has always given the Mustangs problems. It's been joked about several times how that game may be 7 hours long due to all the passing. TCU is winnable, but the Ponies will have to play mistake free football, which is something they could not do in Ft. Worth last year. Tulane is also a winnable game with the same caveat as TCU. UCF, Tulsa, UH, and Navy will prove to be a very rough stretch. Houston has lost most of their starters and will have a weaker offense than last year, but the Cougars remain dangerous defensively. The Mustangs face Memphis in Dallas this year and I expect revenge for last year's OT let down. UTEP has taken backwards steps in consecutive seasons under Mike Price, but remain dangerous on both sides of the ball against a young team such as the Mustangs. Southern Miss is a similar situation to UTEP: talented players that can maul an inexperienced opponent, but also a team coming off of a disappointing season and, in this case, with a new coach.

I predict a 5-7 season and a solid first year for Coach June Jones.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bo Levi to start against Rice?

It's not exactly set in stone yet--though Quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison went as far as saying that Bo was #1 and Braden Smith was #2--but June Jones announced today that Bo Levi Mitchell will be competing against Smith for the starting QB position. Which one of them will be lining up under center on August 29 against Rice? More than likely Bo Levi, given the amount of repetitions he's been getting in practice the past few days and the fact that he is JJ's 'guy' (he decommitted from Hawaii and followed JJ to SMU in January).

I think this has been in the back of most pony fans minds since July, but to actually see Justin Willis--he of a 7-15 record as a starter but also with 51 TD passes--relegated to third on the depth chart behind two true freshmen is still quite shocking. I think most of Mustang Nation expected Bo Levi to get his looks but that the orthodoxy of a returning and successful starter in JW to get the final nod. This clears up any misconceptions that there may have been that June Jones would sacrifice his judgment for that of the previous regime's.

We'll have more posts on this and the upcoming season soon; including a much delayed post about the new uniforms, which Ty will tackle after the annual football kickoff luncheon on August 20.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

T- Minus 17 days

So football season is getting closer and closer, and I'll be honest my man parts are tingly....but not in a gay way. SMU football Kicks off the kickoff of the June Jones era on a Friday Night in Houston in front of a national audience on ESPN. This makes me nervous, while I have no doubt that June is the man to turn the good ship Mustang around; introducing a new system that is very different with either a never played a down of college football QB or one that throws his helmet and missed spring practice is a little nerve racking. This is sort of like the ponies coming out party (think China's opening ceremony not a the difficult conversation between a horned frog and his parents) there hasn't been this much press about the ponies since the death penalty, and this time it's good! So with all the positive talk I'm a little nervous that we fall on our face, don't get me wrong I'm hopeful but in the pit of my stomach I worry, call it pony syndrome but I've been a fan for too long and I know what it feels like to get the rug yanked out from under me year after year. We haven't beaten rice in Houston since '84, we haven't won an opener since KU in 2000, but of course that was before the Age of June. So I can't wait to see how this all unfolds, new coach, new uni's (all hail the white helmet), new year...I believe....June Cometh!

go ponies

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can I see the future?

Probably not. But I did have a dream last night about the upcoming football season (Ponies kickoff against Rice in Houston on ESPN August 29).

In my dream, the Mustangs were playing some faceless, nameless team that was probably Texas Tech. The team was on the field in the now old red uniforms of the the last few years and Justin Willis was at QB.....but without a helmet. I was in the stands yelling "Justin, where's your helmet?"

Willis completed a couple of passes and Emmanuel Sanders fumbled one of the catches out of bounds as he was getting tackled near the goal line. Some small running back had a great break up the middle (Chris Butler perhaps?) Meanwhile, June Jones was lying down on the sideline on a bed while sleepily reading the plays out to the assistant coaches to send in.

It was a bizarre, frustrating dream. And we lost 37-6 (which also made me think it was Tech that we were playing).

For the sake of our sanity and the upcoming season, let's hope my dream stemmed less from any insight I may have in the future and more from the Grolsch I was drinking last night.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Random Beer Thoughts

First and foremost, yes it has been awhile since we last posted (I address that to the three of you reading this). Starting a blog and trying to find time to balance it with work and home life can be difficult. We will make it happen however.

Moving right along. Earlier this summer, I was over at a friend's apartment to watch Nascar (I have $40 riding on our fantasy league). On my way, I had stopped by the store to get some beer, because Nascar while sober, is usually boring. Now, being from Texas I am a devotee of Shiner. I've had and enjoyed Shiners Bock, Light, Summer Stock (now called Kolsch), Winter Stock (Dunkelweizen), Hefeweizen, Blonde, Black Lager (which I recommend), and Shinner 99 (also recommended). But on this particular day, I saw something from the Spoetzel Brewery that I'd never had before: Shiner Spezial Leicht.

Let me start by saying this: do not try Shiner Spezial Leicht. If rubber could be brewed and bottled and marketed as an alcoholic beverage, this is somewhat like what it would taste like. It has a bland yet still offendingly putrid taste to it. Apparently, this particular offering from Shiner is meant as their entry into the increasingly popular low carb beer market. The brewers at Texas's oldest independent brewery should've known better than to delve into such tasteless, anti beer territory .

Beer is meant to be flavorful, aromatic, thought provoking and alcoholic. It is NOT meant to be a part of a low carb diet. And if you want to have a low carb beer to go with your low carb diet then I say 'Fuck you'. Why don't you just switch to wine coolers instead.

And to the good folks at Shiner let me beg this of you: Please stop brewing this awful excuse for a beer and please withdraw those that are already on the market. Shiner Spezial Leicht's very existence is a blight upon the good name of beer everywhere, but especially of Shiner.

Oh, if you could go back to putting Summer Stock, er Kolsch, in the cool bottle that had the horned frog on it, that would be cool too.

Spoetzel Brewery: I await your response.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mets-Yankees Play Last Games at Each Others Respective Stadium....Who Cares?

This weekend, as I lay on the couch recovering from the flu, I was bombarded with Baseball Tonight's treatment of various interleague series in the MLB. Amongst all the talk of the White Sox sweeping the Cubs and my beloved Astros getting some early air time for their highlights (if only because they were playing the Red Sox), was the constant reminder that the Mets and Yankees played each other this weekend and that, gasp, it may be the final time that each team plays in the other's stadium!!!

That the Northeastern United States media market is one of the biggest and most profitable in the country is by now well known. And it is equally well known that the Yankees and to a lesser degree the Mets (and the Red Sox for that matter) enjoy a widespread fan base across the country. So I will not delve into why ESPN showers us in Texas with Yankees and Mets games when neither team is playing particularly well (at least I won't do that in this particular entry). But I will ask this question, who the hell cares if the Mets never play in Yankee Stadium again or that the Yankees never play in 'fabled' Shea after this season?

This is hardly analogous to the Dodgers last game at Ebbetts or the Giants last game at the Polo Grounds (which interestingly, the Mets played in for two seasons before Shea was completed). Interleague play began in 1997. Apart from one fairly mediocre World Series in 2000 (yes the games were all decided by two or fewer runs, whoopededo) in which the only truly memorable moment was Roger Clemens trying to impale Mike Piazza with a broken bat (I can still see the priceless, confused look on Piazza's face to this day) what was so memorable that occured in all the times that the Mets and Yankees played each other?

This is another example of ESPN assuming that what's good for the largest media market in the country is good for the entire country. I don't think it's that ESPN doesn't know that they are continuously hitting us over the head with New York baseball arcana when we're sick of it as a populace, I think it's that they don't care. But why should they care? Broadcasting all New York (or all Boston as the case may be) all the time is what has helped turn the network into the monolith they are. Why kill the golden goose?

Finally, because it's funny:

Friday, June 27, 2008

We have arrived

Prepare yourself for our awesomeness......