SMU hopes to gain practice against UH
The Southern Methodist Mustangs (1-7, 0-4 Conference USA) were less than a minute away from getting their second win of the season against Tulsa on Saturday but came up short.
They will now head to Houston to face the defending C-USA Champions this Sunday at Robertson Stadium on a six-game losing streak.
SMU head coach Phil Bennett said Houston will not be an easy opponent for the inexperienced and injury-plagued Mustangs.
"It’s going to be a challenge. A year ago we played these guys, and we were playing them for the championship," Bennett said in a press conference Tuesday. "To go down to their place, we’re going to have to play extremely well to have a chance."
Bennett said that playing on Sunday instead of Saturday will give his players more time to heal from their injuries.
Sophomore defensive back Bryce Hudman and freshman safety De’Von Bailey’s statuses are "questionable" for Sunday’s game against Houston, Bennett said.
Senior defensive end Cory Muse, who had a season-high five tackles against Houston last year, sat out of the game against Tulsa with a leg injury and will not play against the Cougars, putting extra strain on the Mustang defense.
"We’ve got an extra day, which we need. We’ve got some guys banged up. We’re hoping we get that extra day to heal up," Bennett said.
The Mustang defense, spread thin with injuries, will have to depend more on their offense to counter Houston’s scoring production.
"Between (Anthony) Alridge and Donnie Avery, probably the only guy we got than can truly run with them is (junior running back DeMyron Martin)," Bennett said.
However, Martin has been inconsistent, rushing for 100 yards against Texas Christian University on Sept. 22 but only three against Texas-El Paso the following week.
Last week, Martin had 22 yards and one touchdown on six carries against Tulsa but will need to do better to keep up with Houston seniors running back Alridge and wide receiver Avery, who had a combined total of over 250 yards in a win against UTEP on Saturday.
Bennett said SMU’s loss against Tulsa on Saturday was a result of "freshmen mistakes."
SMU had the lead and the ball at the Tulsa one-yard line with less than two minutes left in the game, but Tulsa stopped the Mustangs on fourth-and-goal and scored in the final minutes to win the game.
"There was a tremendous shift in momentum when we didn’t score at the one-yard line," Bennett said. "(Freshman defensive lineman) Ryan Leonard and (freshman defensive end) Jordan Johnson: if they’d stayed in their rush lanes, the play’s over."
Bennett said he hopes that his players will learn from playing against a more experienced team like Houston.
"The team we’re about to play is probably the most capable team right now, in my opinion, in this league. If we can go down there, find a way to win this game, to me it validates that yes, we’re good enough, and these guys in the near future will have an opportunity," Bennett said. "Right now the measuring stick in Conference USA is going through Houston."