At 1-3 early in his sixth season at SMU, head coach June Jones and the Mustangs host Rutgers in their inaugural AAC game. Jones spoke in-depth about Rutgers and the road ahead in conference play Monday morning during the weekly American conference call.
Opening thoughts on Rutgers
“Rutgers is a very good football team. It will be a challenge. They do a good job coaching both sides of the football with good schemes. They allow their kids to play hard.”
On Rutgers struggle against spread offenses
“Well everybody struggles with Fresno State. I see that they have real sound schemes in what they’re doing and I think their coaches do a great job defensively. They put their kids in position to make plays.”
On SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert
“Garrett is a kid in his second year of doing what we’re doing. He’s getting a better and better feel for what we do every time he walks on the field. We did not help him much last week. We didn’t block them up front very well, so hopefully we’ll get that improved as we go through.”
On Gilbert’s Texas experience
“He had, I think, some bad experiences at Texas when he was there. When you’re an 18-year old kid and you get booed off the field, I think it takes its toll on a young kid. I think he’s gaining his confidence back in what we’re doing. … He has played in big games. He was a highly recruited quarterback coming out of high school and he’s starting to show the leadership you need at quarterback.”
On Rutgers pro-style offense vs SMU spread offense
“Rutgers does a great job putting their kids in position to make plays. They do a lot of different things but they seem to know what they’re doing. Athletically up front, they move around really good and they can run.
“We’re going to have to make plays both in the run game and in the passing game to beat them. I was very impressed with what they do on offense, which is different than what we normally see a team play. It’s kind of one of those games that is coming from two different systems – one where we spread the field a little bit more and they try to power and run in and beat you up inside. We’re going to have to play good defense and stop the run first.
“When you do that, they have a good play-action pass scheme. I think the new conference for us, the talent pool is a little higher than what we had been playing against in Conference USA. Every game will be a challenge.”
On coaching changes at Connecticut and USC
I think that the dynamics of this business have completely changed. It started maybe 15 or 18 years ago with talk radio and now it’s social media. There’s a lot more scrutiny on coaches and coaches are getting paid a whole lot more money than they ever were. I remember an NFL coach in Atlanta in 1977 when I was playing, he was making $37,000 as a head coach. Now the scrutiny is much higher because they’re being paid so much more and because of social media and there’s ways to kind of divide and get to the football team. Usually a coach could control the locker room. Now it’s getting harder and harder to control the locker room.