SMU coach Sonny Dykes looks at Saturday’s game against North Texas and sees positive potential. The Mustangs and the Mean Green both go into the game at 1-0. And North Texas’ win took on a different value last weekend. They won their season opener against Houston Baptist 57-3 two weeks ago. That same HBU team then went and took Texas Tech to the limits Saturday before losing 35-33. By indirect correlation, that would seem to make the North Texas win over HBU even more impressive.
Sonny Dykes Sees Opportunities This Week
Dykes called it a, “Big test” this weekend. In particular he is impressed with redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Bean, who made his first career start in week one against HBU, after one year as a back-up. Bean completed 61% of his passes for 217 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 47 yards and another touchdown. “I was really impressed with the way he played,” Dykes said earlier this week. “I thought he threw the ball well, made a couple of plays with his feet, was really impressive and hand a long touchdown run. He showed what kind of speed he’s got. I thought he made good decisions in distributing the ball.”
In the win two weeks ago, Bean had completions to 11 different receivers. Jaelon Darden had the most receptions with five for 71 yards and touchdown. Greg White had 76 yards receiving to lead the Mean Green in that category. Dykes said, “They have speed and size at wide receiver. They are an explosive football team with a lot of weapons.”
Getting More Work In
As for his own team, maybe the postponed game against TCU could do the Mustangs some good. Instead of focusing on prep for one team, they could have time to work on needed improvements stemming from the first week win over Texas State.
“I think it is hard to replicate the experience that playing in a game gives you,” Dykes said. “But, you know, at the same time, it did allow us to do some things differently than we would have. We practiced Friday, Saturday, and Sunday straight through. We needed the practice. I think we needed the conditioning.” He was pleased with the results. “I like the way practiced on Sunday. To me, you could tell it was game week. Our guys were focused.” He said the practices did not drag the way often do during a bye week. “I think our preference would have been to play a game. But at the same time, it did give us an opportunity to address some of the issues we needed to address.”
Among the things that needed work, according to Dykes, was on defense. SMU gave up 195 yards on the ground to Calvin Hill and Brock Sturges on just 27 carries combined. “I thought defensively we certainly didn’t play as well as we should have against the run early in the game. They ran the ball better than they should have in the first half. We’ve got to improve our run defense for sure.” They face a North Texas run game that put up 367 yards on 52 carries in the opening weekend. Oscar Adaway III had 118 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. Deandre Torrey added another 85 yards on 11 carries.
Opportunities To Open The Offense
Considering everything SMU had to go through, as have many teams, just to get on the field for the first week, Dykes said he was not surprised at the way the team played. He highlighted the effort being good, but the execution needing the most attention.
He also said the performance was dictated by the game plan. “We had a pretty conservative game plan. We just tried to run the ball and establish the run game.” Dykes said, to that end, they did not ask much of quarterback Shane Buechele. The senior was 26 of 36 passing for 367 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Dykes wrote off some of the mistakes to protection issues and mistakes downfield. “I think in the first game it was not as steady as it has been, but it was not anything that was not expected. Overall, I think he is in a really good. His arm feels good. I think he is on the same age with the receivers and I expect him to continue to improve.”
The North Texas defense gave up 480 yards passing against HBU two weeks ago. The opportunity is there for Buechele and the offense to spread their wings a little more this weekend.
Lest anyone think Dykes is getting too ahead of himself with the early success, he was asked this week what he thought of the Mustangs being on the cusp of the both the AP and the Coaches’ polls. “Those people clearly didn’t watch the game against Texas State.”