Q&A: Craig James, SMU Alum & Football Player

October 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Craig James is famous for his days as part of the legendary Pony Express backfield and is one of the best SMU and NFL running backs to ever play the game.

Craig James is making a name for himself off the field as well. This is the second stop on his tour to motivate young people “to get off the sidelines and into the game.” The purpose of the tour is to express to young people how important they are in the process of democracy; James encourages people to come together and be involved and engaged citizens.

Daily Mustang sports writer Chris Sacks had a chance to sit down with James beforehand to discuss his tour, his career and SMU football.

Craig James Fact Sheet:

SMU Career Rushing Yards: 3rd Place with 3,743 yards
SMU Hundred Yard Rushing Games: 2nd with 16 games
NFL Career Rushing: 2,469 yards & 11 Touchdowns
Offensive Player of the Year: 1985 with 1,227 yards

What exactly are you here to talk to us about?
“Right now I’m on tour to motivate and encourage 18-29 year olds to get off the sidelines and get involved in their communities. I’m here to emphasize how important each one of us is. If we don’t all get involved, I fear for where our country is heading. I’m not saying to be a republican, a democrat, or a libertarian, but to be Americans. I’m here to encourage all of us as Americans to get involved. If we want to maintain America, then we have to stand up and get involved. I think 18-29 year olds can be the next great American Generation.”

What are some way students can get involved?
“Get out there and vote. Be educated when you vote. Educate yourself on not just presidential elections, but local elections and local policies. I’m here to discuss how regulations and taxes impact my business and to discuss how to keep Texas awesome. When I was your age, I wasn’t out voting because I didn’t think I could have an impact. But, we’re in a different world now, and I’m just out here trying to motivate people.”

What do you do?
“I’ve been an analyst for ESPN for a while; in the 90’s, I had a Broadcasting School, and while I was at SMU, I had a car sales and leasing business. For now, aside from a sports analyst, I’ve been doing real estate, ranching, running cattle, and producing hay.”

You seem very passionate, have you considered a political career?
“I’ve been encouraged to run, but for now my public service is to get out there and get people to stand up and be heard.”

Do you use social media?
“I love twitter and the fact that it’s only 140 characters, you get right to the point. It gives me a way of responding and communicating with friends and fans. I like the interaction and extension it gives me. People don’t always agree with how I vote or what I say about their team or their school, but I don’t say it in a malicious way.”

How do you feel about the state of the SMU Football Program?
“It’s great and exciting to see them starting to compete again and that there are some athletes out there on the field. SMU is sort of a diamond in the rough with the academic background, the city of Dallas, and what it offers a student athlete. I think it has got a lot of upside for SMU, and I’m very happy for the team and the university.”

Do you still keep in touch with any of your teammates? Who?
“I’m still good friends with several people who I went to SMU with and who I played football with. I’m still great friends with Erik Dickerson. We see each other all the time and he’s a wonderful guy. He’s a proud Mustang and so am I.”

What is your greatest memory of SMU?
“Oddly enough it was the day my daughter graduated from SMU in 2006. My wife and I were both parents of a graduating student and that was really special to be back on campus for that.”

Navy Sinks SMU Football, 28-21

October 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Chris Sacks

The SMU Mustangs lost to rival Navy 28-21 in a close second-half battle.

SMU lead at the half 14-0. After half time, Navy scored three unanswered touchdowns to put them ahead 21-14 at the end of the fourth quarter.

SMU scored a touchdown early in the 4th quarter and stopped Navy on the following drive.

With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied 21-21. Kyle Padron and the Mustangs took to the field. On the first play of the drive, the Mustangs threw an interception that led to Navy’s fourth touchdown of the game.

“We didn’t play as well in the second half as we did in the first half, we did some good things, and it’s just too bad,” said June Jones.

Turnovers continue to plague the Mustangs as Navy scored on both forced turnovers. All three of SMU’s non-conference losses were due to capitalization of forced turnovers.

“Your can’t have turnovers and stupid penalties at the end of the game,” said Jones.

Kyle Padron threw 28-42 for 254 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 136.28.

Zach Line was shutdown and rushed 15 times for 83 yards.

Darius Johnson led the receiving core with 12 receptions for 104 yards. Cole Beasley caught nine passes for 72 yards and Aldrick Robinson caught four passes for 41 yards. All three had one touchdown in the game.

The Mustangs need to stay focused throughout the rest of the season in order to attain their goal of winning a conference championship. The Mustangs cannot turn the ball over against Houston, UTEP, and East Carolina, or any other teams if they expect to achieve their goal.

SMU finishes the season with conference play until bowl season. SMY plays the Houston Cougars this Saturday at Ford Stadium. It is the Homecoming Game at SMU and is scheduled to be a blue-out.

Mustang Football to Annapolis: Seeking Revenge Against Navy

October 14, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Chris Sacks

The Mustangs travel to Annapolis, Maryland to seek revenge against the Navy Midshipmen Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Last year, the Mustangs lost to Navy 35-38 in overtime in a nail biter at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

Navy ranks second in the nation in total pass yards allowed with only 707 yards allowed in five games. The Navy Midshipmen also rank third in pass yards allowed per game with only 141.4.

TCU, who the Mustangs faced in week three, ranks second in pass yards allowed per game, allowing on average 134.2.

Against TCU, the Mustangs passed for 169 yards and rushed for almost 180 yards. As long as Padron makes good decisions and Zach Line plays well, the Mustangs should be able to run the ball right back at Navy.

Navy does not have as good of a run defense, so expect senior Zach Line to have a huge game. The Navy defense is allowing 171.4 yards per game this season.

The biggest worry for the Mustangs is Navy’s triple-option offense. Last year the Mustangs were only able to hold Navy to 300 yards on the ground. Expect a more experienced front seven to keep that number a lot lower than it was a year ago.

Navy senior quarterback Ricky Dobbs has been having a spectacular year. He is leading the team in both rushing and passing yards with 573 and 317 yards respectively.

The game will air on CBS-College Sports with coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. Central Time.

Prediction: SMU 21- Navy 17

SMU Football Storms Past Tulsa

October 10, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Chris Sacks

SMU stormed past Tulsa to stay undefeated in Conference Play at 3-0 and 4-2 overall. The Mustangs are having their best conference start since 1986.

The Mustang offense was hitting on all cylinders against Tulsa totaling 487 yards.

Kyle Padron had one of his best games this season throwing for a season high 381 yards. Padron threw 27-40 with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 167.26.

“I feel more confident. The O-Line is playing great and the receivers are making plays. Those guys make me look a lot better with what I’m doing” said Padron in a post-game press conference.

Padron continues to spread the ball around to all of the receivers. Aldrick Robinson led the receiving core with five catches for 118 yards.

Darius Johnson had eight catches for 102 yards, Cole Beasley had seven catches for 91 yards, and Bradley Haynes had four catches for 40 yards. All three receivers had one touchdown.

Zach Line carried the ball 17 times for 92 yards averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

“Zach and the O-Line don’t get enough credit, they do a lot of work,” said Padron. “They watch a lot of film and it shows. They put in a lot of hard work to keep the defense honest and off balance”

The Mustang defense kept the game close holding the Tulsa offense to a season low 364 yards. The Golden Hurricanes are typically averaging around 500 yards per game.

Senior linebacker Pete Fleps led the team with 10 tackles, and linebacker Ja’Gared Davis had eight tackles and a sack bringing his season total to seven sacks.

The defense held gunslinger G.J. Kinne to 229 yards with no touchdowns and his lowest completion percentage of the season. This is the first game of the season Kinne hasn’t thrown a touchdown.

June Jones was satisfied with the way his defense played.

“The front seven is playing well and the defensive backs didn’t give up any big plays,” said Jones in a post-game press conference.

Special teams also continue to keep the Mustangs competitive and an exciting team to watch. Defensive end Margus Hunt had a blocked field goal in the first quarter and junior defensive end Kevin Grenier had a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter.

This was Grenier’s second of the season and Hunt’s ninth blocked kick of his career, setting an SMU record. It’s Hunt’s sixth blocked field goal attempt which ties him for third in NCAA history.

“It’s the guys believing that we have the chance to block every kick. The guys around him are putting penetration on the players to get Margus to have the movement to get through. It’s a team deal,” said Jones in the post-game press conference.

The rest of the team notices the success and recognizes that it is a team effort.

“I called the second one. We always talk about it on the sideline” said Kyle Padron. “Taylor Thompson always gets a good push and opens the lane for Margus.”

SMU travels to Annapolis, Maryland next weekend to take on the Navy Midshipman. The winner is awarded the Frank Gansz memorial trophy, which was created last year to honor the Navy linebacker and SMU special teams coach. The game will be aired on CBS-College Sports at 3:30 eastern time / 2:30 central time.

Mustangs Trample Owls: 42-31

October 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Fans cheer on the SMU Mustangs at Saturday's game against Rice. (PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GALANTE / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

By Chris Sacks

The Mustangs rolled past Rice University on Saturday in Houston with a 42–31 win. The last time SMU beat Rice in Houston was in 1986.

SMU is halfway to being bowl eligible again and is currently undefeated in conference play and tied for first in C-USA West with Houston.

The game started off with a bang when Sterling Moore intercepted a pass from Rice quarterback Nick Fanuzzi and returned it for a touchdown. Richard Crawford also added an interception, his first of the year.

The Mustangs gather for a huddle during the game against Rice. SMU won 42-31. (PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GALANTE / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The SMU defense held Fanuzzi to 276 yards and, more surprisingly, held running back Sam Mcguffie to just 96 yards. McGuffie, a transfer from the University of Michigan, rushed for almost 500 yards his freshman year.

SMU’s special teams continue to keep the Mustangs competitive and a fun team to watch. Linebacker Youri Yenga blocked a field goal that Ja’Gared Davis was able to scoop up and take back 77 yards for a touchdown.

SMU has only allowed one field goal all season on six different attempts.

“I was proud of how the guys played on the road and how Kyle got on track,” said June Jones in a post-game press conference.

The passing game really starting clicking this weekend when Kyle Padron threw 24-32 for 371 yards, 3 touchdowns, and had a passer rating of 203.33.

Cole Beasley led the team with eight catches for 158 yards. Aldrick Robinson had six catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

“Al really stepped up and made some big tough catches,” said Jones after the game.

Aldrick Robinson has been leading the receiving core this season racking up 421 yards and six touchdowns so far.

The passing game has been quiet all season. The Mustangs need to continue to have games like this to show that they are running a true run-and-shoot offense. This will also help show off that they are a dual threat offense both in the backfield and in the passing game.

The Mustangs take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in their third conference game this season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Dallas at Ford Stadium on Saturday.

SMU Puts Up a Fight: TCU 41, SMU 24

September 27, 2010 by · Comments Off 

TCU running back Ed Wesley is upended by SMU defender Taylor Reed during the first half of TCU's 41-24 victory over the Mustangs at Ford Stadium. (PHOTO BY STUART PALLEY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Click here for a photo slideshow from the game.

By Chris Sacks

The headline for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram read “Frogs Survive Scare.” This is not too bad for a team that was 1-11 two seasons ago.

SMU is starting to take the step up to the big leagues.

June Jones said it was “exciting to see energy on campus and in the city about the game.”

SMU took the lead in the third quarter 17-14, but the Mustangs let it slip.
“TCU wore down our defense at the end,” Jones said in the post-game press conference. The Mustang defense looked very slow and worn down toward the middle of the third quarter and TCU took advantage of it.

TCU scored four touchdowns in the second half as Dalton and the TCU offense tried to salvage their argument for a BCS Bowl.

Before the defense shut down, the Mustangs were playing very well. They held the TCU offense to 183 total yards in the first half.

Ryan Smith and Sterling Moore each picked off two interceptions against Dalton who has not thrown an interception since TCU’s season opener.

Even though the defense didn’t play well in the second half, SMU is the best pass defense Andy Dalton has seen all season. The Mustangs held Dalton to a season low of 174 yards and 53.8% completion.

Kyle Padron threw 14-35 for 169 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception with a passer rating of 93.7.

“Kyle will be disappointed when he looks at film, but he played pretty well going up against the best defense in the country,” Jones said.

Padron cannot be faulted for his interception in the fourth quarter while trying to make a big, last chance, desperation play.

Zach Line set another career high rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown.

“Zach is successful in the run and shoot. He’s got quickness inside for his size and is big enough to block,” said Jones.

Darius Johnson led the receivers with five receptions for 72 yards.

“Darius is a gamer, he made plays in high school. We need to get him the ball more,” said Jones in the post-game press conference.

Aldrick Robinson also had five receptions for 61 yards, and Cole Beasley had two receptions for 20 yards.

SMU plays conference opponent Rice in Houston on Saturday with a 6 p.m. kickoff time. Although it is great to play big rivalry games on national television, the Mustangs need to shake off this loss and focus on the team goal of a conference championship and a bowl game.

SMU vs. TCU Preview

September 23, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

By Chris Sacks

SMU squares off with its rival, TCU, on Friday Sept. 24. (PHOTO BY STUART PALLEY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG; GRAPHIC COURTESY OF SMU)

Friday will be the 19th time SMU and TCU battle for the Iron Skillet in an ESPN-televised match. SMU is looking to bust #4 TCU’s BCS bowl run, while TCU is looking to keep the Iron Skillet.

The last time SMU beat TCU was in 2005 when TCU was ranked 22nd in the nation. The win was also the Mustangs first win against a ranked team since the death penalty.

Friday’s game marks the 75th anniversary of the “Game of the Century,” when SMU beat TCU 20-14 to win the National Championship in 1935.

TCU’s senior quarterback, Andy Dalton, is the key to the Horned Frog offense. This season, Dalton has thrown 75% for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. Dalton is ranked the 15th best quarterback in the NCAA with a passer rating of 161.4.

TCU’s defense is the fourth best in the country allowing only 222 yards per game.

The Mustang’s are going to have to be flawless in order to pull off the win. Typically, SMU has always given TCU a good game and vice-versa.

The keys to the game on the Mustang side of the ball are quarterback Kyle Padron and running back Zach Line. The Mustangs are going to have to mix up the play calling with both run and pass in order to keep the TCU defense on their toes. SMU also needs to limit turnovers.

The defense needs to continue its success by stopping the run with the front seven. The defensive backs need to have their best game of the season to pull off the win.

SMU defensive back Sterling Moore did not participate in practice this week, but is expected to play Friday.

SMU fans are encouraged to wear red to support the Mustangs. There will also be a jet flyover before the 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be at Ford Stadium at 7 p.m.

Football Post Game Wrap-Up, SMU vs. WSU

September 19, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Chris Sacks

The Mustangs improved to 2-1 on the season after beating the Washington State Cougars Saturday 35-21. SMU is now 7-2 in their last nine games and 8-1 in their last nine home games.

Coach Jones is trying to restore a winning culture at SMU.

“It is important to have a home field advantage and win at home. To be a good championship football team, you have to win your home games and steal a few on the road,” Jones said after the game.

The win over Washington State was SMU’s first in 10 years against an automatic qualifying BCS Team since the Mustang’s beat Kansas in 2000.

Kyle Padron threw 19 -34 for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns, the most in his career.

“Things just started to click more,” said Padron in a post-game interview.

Padron looked very confident throwing the ball, especially in the second half. He is going to have to play just as flawlessly against TCU for a chance at victory Friday.

SMU’s Zach Line had eight carries for 82 yards, averaging 10 yards per carry. Chris Butler had six carries for 25 yards.

Aldrick Robinson led the SMU receivers with four receptions, 111 yards, and three touchdowns. Cole Beasley had five catches for 54 yards, and Darius Johnson had four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Holman, a promising freshmen from Beaumont, Texas, had two receptions for 20 yards in his debut at wide receiver.

The front seven continued to play strong on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Taylor Thompson had 1.5 sacks, and linebacker Taylor Reed led the defense with 10 tackles.

SMU Defensive back Sterling Moore did not play because of his knee injury. He is expected to participate in practice at the end of the week and should be ready to play by Friday’s game against TCU.

“We hope to keep getting better as we progress on the season,” said Jones in a post-game press conference.

The Mustangs take on TCU Friday at 7 p.m. at Ford Stadium on ESPN.

For pictures of the game, check out the SMU Daily Mustang Football Slideshow.

SMU Football Seeks Revenge against Washington State

September 16, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Chris Sacks

SMU is looking for revenge against Washington State Saturday. SMU was Washington State’s only win last year in a devastating overtime loss.

Washington State may have only won one game last year, but this season they are already 1-1. Washington State is coming off their first win of the season against Montana State.

Last year, SMU was plagued by turnovers with Bo-Levi Mitchell and a young defense. This year, with a mature front seven on defense, quick linebackers, and a confident Kyle Padron at the helm, the Mustangs should have no trouble meeting the 21-point spread in their favor.

Padron’s decision making was questioned against Texas Tech after throwing three picks but redeemed himself against UAB by not throwing any interceptions and rushing for over 66 yards.

As long as SMU plays to its potential, Kyle Padron makes good decisions and the front seven on defense play well, the Mustangs will have another victory on Saturday.

The Stangs will be missing safety Randy Mckinnon. And, corner back Sterling Moore will be a game-time decision.

Randy Mckinnon tore his ACL on a kickoff this past Saturday against UAB. Mckinnon is a transfer from Syracuse University who wanted to play his last year of eligibility at SMU. He applied for an injury redshirt, which would allow him to sit out the rest of the season so he could play next year.

Washington State’s receiving core is tall with their top three receivers being 6’1”, 6’3” and 6’4”. The real test will be if the Mustang secondary can lock down these receivers.

According to Coach June Jones, SMU’s front seven have been playing well and will hopefully step up and put some pressure on Washington State’s quarterback Jeff Tuel. Tuel has thrown 32-58 with 416 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception with a passer rating of 129 on the season.

Tuel played well against Oklahoma State in week one. He proved himself by throwing 14-29 with 212 yards and a touchdown. If the Mustang defense can put pressure on him, his impact can be limited.

SMU is 6-2 in their last eight games and 6-1 in their last seven home games. The game will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Score Prediction: SMU 38 Washington State 17

SMU Mustangs Beat UAB in Unexpected Style 28-7

September 12, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Chris Sacks

Posted by Kimmy Ryan

Zack Line runs in a winning touchdown into the inzone, SMU 28 UAB 7. (PHOTO BY STUART PALLEY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The SMU Mustangs improved to a 1-1 season after winning in unexpected style 28-7 against UAB last night. Freshmen running back Daryll Fields started the game, but senior SMU running back Zach Line stole the show with 122 rushing yards and 25 receiving yards.

“I could tell after Zach’s first carry he had gained some confidence from last week,” Coach June Jones said in a post-game interview.

Jones was very excited about winning in such an unexpected style. This is the first time SMU has had more rushing yards than passing yards under Jones in the “run and shoot’ offense.

Kyle Padron played with more confidence than he did against Texas Tech. He completed 18 of 33 passes for 145 yards. He had nine rushes for 66 yards. And, with four touchdowns and a passer rating of 111.45, Padron had a successful night.

“Kyle was still a little bit unsettled, but he did what he had to do to win the game and made plays when he had to,” Jones said.

Padron was quick to scramble yesterday after seeing UAB’s downfield coverage. Scrambling was better than panicking and forcing passes, which resulted in interceptions in the Texas Tech game.

“Instead of panicking and just throwing it, Kyle ran the ball,” Jones said.

Padron spread the ball out and got many receivers involved in the game. Padron continues to mature as a quarterback.

SMU wide receivers Cole Beasley and Aldrick Robinson had 51 yards each, but Darius Johnson was the star wide receiver of the game, catching two touchdowns.

The SMU front seven continue to be the strength of the SMU defense, especially the “speed at linebacker,” according to Coach Jones. Linebacker Pete Fleps led the team with 13 tackles in the game and one tackle for loss.

The front three put a lot of pressure on UAB. The linebackers were able to contain UAB rushing-quarterback David Isabelle to just 34 rushing yards.

Turnovers, which plagued the Mustangs against Texas Tech, were not as big of a problem against UAB. The Mustangs did fumble early in the first quarter, which led to a UAB passing touchdown from David Isabelle to wide receiver Mike Jones.

“As long as we don’t turn the ball over, we will be competitive in every game,” Jones said.

The Mustangs host Washington State next week on Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

Kimmy Ryan and Chris Sacks breakdown the highlights of Saturday’s home game against UAB.

SMU vs. UAB: Post Game Recap from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

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