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.