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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Ponies have problem if top WR out

By Jeff Caplan

During the first half of last week's SMU blowout of Memphis, Mustangs wide receiver Cole Beasley was all over the field, catching and running and slipping by defenders as SMU jumped out to a quick start.

After three catches for 50 yards, the speedy and dependable Beasley went down in the second quarter with a knee injury. He hasn't practiced this week and on Tuesday he was dragging around a right leg encased in a big blue brace. Coach June Jones was waiting on MRI results and didn't pronounce the team's leading receiver (31 catches, 376 yards) out for Saturday's Battle of the Iron Skillet at No. 20 TCU, but it certainly doesn't look good.

An SMU team that is monitoring several injuries and with quarterback J.J. McDermott's leading target on the sideline does not bode well against a Horned Frogs defense that has been dinged some, especially in the secondary, but has shown improvement since the 50-48 loss at Baylor in the season-opener.

How will the Mustangs cope?

"Next pony up," running back Zach Line said.

That's the hope. Darius Johnson is the second-leading receiver with 27 catches for a team-high 398 yards. He has half of SMU's four receiving touchdowns on the season, a low total for a Jones-coached offense. Terrance Wilkerson is next and he is the only other receiver with double-digit receptions. He has 13 catches for 183 yards. Sophomore Jeremy Johnson (four catches, 33 yards) and Bradley Haynes (one catch, 2 yards), would be next ponies up, so to speak.

It could mean more reliance on Line, the punishing, 230-pound junior tailback that is averaging 115.8 yards a game and went for 139 on 8.2 yards a carry a year ago against the Frogs.

"We better player our best game this week. This is the best defense that we'll play this season," Jones said. "Baylor made a lot of plays, a lot of one-on-one just big play. We're going to have to make our plays when we can and just be efficient offensively because they do a great job on defense."