Dallas Colleges: Kyle Padron

Season recap: SMU

December, 7, 2011

Record: 7-5, 5-3 C-USA

The season appeared as if it would be an improvement over 2010, when the Mustangs won the West Division and played in the Conference USA championship game. They got off to a 5-1 start, including a huge 40-33 overtime win over cross-town rival TCU, their first win over a ranked team since the 1980s. SMU also avenged a loss to UCF -- which beat the Mustangs in the C-USA title game a year ago.

But then things began to fall apart for an offense that is known for its high scoring. J.J. McDermott, who replaced Kyle Padron in the season opener, started to struggle and the Mustangs ended up losing four of their final six games. In three of those losses, SMU scored a touchdown or less, unheard of for a June Jones run 'n' shoot offense. SMU squeaked out a 27-24 win over Rice to get to seven wins in the regular season for the second straight year. But SMU was unable to beat Tulsa and Houston this year, its top competition in the West.

Still, getting to a third straight bowl game tied the school record for consecutive bowl appearances. For a program ravaged by the death penalty, that is a huge measure of how far this program has come.

Offensive MVP: Zach Line, RB. Line led Conference USA in rushing for the second straight season with 1,224 yards and scored a league-best 17 touchdowns in just 10 games before suffering a season-ending foot injury. Still, he made the C-USA first team and was dependable all season long for an offense that struggled at times.

Defensive MVP: Taylor Thompson, DE. The Mustangs got a lot of clutch performances on defense, but Thompson was a C-USA first-team selection after leading the team with seven sacks and six forced fumbles -- that tied him for No. 3 in the nation.

Turning point: A 27-3 loss to Southern Miss. SMU only had 330 yards and 14 first downs in the loss, which started the slide at the end of the season. The Mustangs had opportunities in the second half, driving into Southern Miss territory twice, but they came away with no points. They also had nine penalties and were 4-of-13 on third downs.

What’s next: SMU plays Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl, and then it is off to prepare for a new conference home, as the Mustangs are reportedly set to join the Big East for 2013. Coach June Jones has been mentioned as a candidate at several openings, but has reportedly assured his staff he is staying. For how long is always a question that has surrounded him everywhere he has gone.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 1

September, 1, 2011
Here are ten things I'm keeping an eye on in Week 1 of Big 12 football.

1. Garrett Gilbert. Everything else aside, Gilbert is ultimately the one guy who will decide how far Texas gets this season. Or, at least whoever Texas' quarterback is by midseason. Gilbert needs to play well to a) make sure he's that guy and b) help Texas rebound from last year's debacle.

[+] EnlargeGarrett Gilbert
Brendan Maloney/US PresswireThe success of Texas' season likely rides on the shoulders of Garrett Gilbert ... or his replacement.
2. Does Baylor have a second go-to receiver? Josh Gordon is a huge loss. Everything pointed to a breakout year for the big receiver, but who's going to emerge as Robert Griffin III's other top target. Baylor has talent at the position, but it's going to help if one receiver makes his presence clear. Terrance Williams? Tevin Reese? Lanear Sampson? Bueller?

3. Oklahoma's safeties. Javon Harris and Aaron Colvin have a ton of potential, but they've got a tough test in Week 1. Last year, Oklahoma broke in two brand new corners against Utah State and nearly was upset on its home field. G.J. Kinne is a stud, and with both of last year's safeties in the NFL, are Harris and Colvin up for the task?

4. Weeden2Blackmon. Here's the deal: This game won't be close. But I love watching these two play. And they're going to be putting up some big highlights for the first time in eight months. Football! Finally!

5. James Franklin's arm. We've seen Franklin run plenty as a freshman playing behind Blaine Gabbert. But Missouri will go about as far as Franklin's arm will take them. His teammates have been impressed with what he's down through the air in the offseason. Will he validate them in the opener?

6. Steele Jantz's legs. Nobody outside Ames has really seen Jantz, a transfer from a California junior college, do much. But he won the starting job over the more experienced Jerome Tiller (before he was ruled academically ineligible for the season) and has Cyclones fans excited. Is he the dynamic playmaker Iowa State's offense has been missing?

7. Kansas State's running backs. Bill Snyder called it the closest competition on the team. The WIldcats have three co-starters, and third on the list is the Big 12 transfer with the most hype: Bryce Brown. Will he establish himself as the clear replacement for Daniel Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing the past two seasons?

8. Kansas' point total. Kansas simply needs to show it can execute. It did it against New Mexico State last year and briefly against Colorado, but this is largely the same team from last year, with a handful of new faces added. How much better is the offense? Good enough to compete in the Big 12? Because the Jayhawks weren't close in 2010.

9. Texas A&M's linebackers. Most of the attention is paid to quarterback Kyle Padron, but the Mustangs' 230-pound, rumbling running back Zach Line is no joke, either. He had at least 94 yards rushing in six of the past seven games in 2010, and the Aggies have a big hole at middle linebacker that Jonathan Stewart will try to fill.

10. Texas Tech's playcalling. Tommy Tuberville wants a new commitment to the running game, but where will that show up? The Red Raiders have what I think will be a good QB, but lots of unanswered questions at receiver next to a deep stable of running backs and a good offensive line. I'm also excited to see what freshman tight end Jace Amaro can do.

Can Ponies finally capture community?

August, 24, 2011

DALLAS -- Disconcerting winds are howling all around the SMU football program.

Nationally, college athletics creeps closer to major realignment and threatens to further bury non-BCS conference programs like the Mustangs. SMU coach June Jones said schools like his better start thinking out of the box or "we'll be left behind."

Locally, all is not calm, either. SMU athletic director Steve Orsini is feverishly pounding the pavement attempting to boost ticket sales that he described as "flat" for the upcoming season. The hard sell has come as a bit of a surprise to the athletics department, considering Jones' team easily boasts the most promising SMU squad in decades after already accomplishing consecutive bowl appearances for the first time since the mid-1980s.

But if locals won't get on board -- attendance in 2010 increased by only 2,167 to an average of 23,315 last year, leaving some 9,000 empty seats at picturesque Ford Stadium -- then what hope is there for SMU to raise its profile nationally like its neighbor to the west?

All good things take time, and TCU coach Gary Patterson will tell you that (Fort Worth didn't turn purple overnight). Unfortunately for SMU, a potential massive shift toward four 16-team super-conferences -- predicted by Jones to happen within 24 months -- yields little time for incremental growth.

"It's very important for our community and all the things that are happening in college athletics today," Orsini said of growing the bandwagon. "The timing is just right. It's time for SMU to get back into the national landscape, to be relevant again. I believe we're accomplishing that and, yet, we still have a long way to go."

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Davey O'Brien QB watch list announced

July, 15, 2011
The Davey O'Brien Foundation announced its watch list Friday featuring the nation's top 38 collegiate quarterbacks.

Baylor's Robert Griffin and Oklahoma's Landry Jones -- both 2010 semifinalist -- return to the list. Also appearing are SMU's Kyle Padron, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the Davey O'Brien Award. Quarterbacks from all 120 Division I FBS schools are eligible until the field is narrowed to 16 candidates on Oct. 24. The three finalists will be announced Nov. 21, and the winner Dec. 8.

Two of the last three winners of the award have come from the Big 12 South. Texas' Colt McCoy was honored in 2009, and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford won the year before. Auburn's Cam Newton was the 2010 winner.

The 35th Davey O'Brien Awards dinner will be Feb. 20, 2012, in Fort Worth.
Bruce Feldman takes to his mailbag to answer questions on this year's non-BCS sleeper team -- the SMU Mustangs.

His take:
I'll throw out an even bigger dark horse to watch in 2011: the SMU Mustangs. This is a team that is going to be really interesting to keep an eye on.

June Jones, who went 1-11 in his first season there, then 8-5 two seasons ago and 7-7 in 2010, has a talented, maturing bunch coming back, with 18 starters returning. The entire offensive line returns, as does the defensive line. Better still, Jones' triggerman, Kyle Padron, the latest Southlake Carroll High School quarterback product, is back for his third season in Jones' quarterback-friendly system. The 6-foot-4 junior completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,828 yards in 2010, boasting an impressive 31-14 TD-INT ratio.

If I'm going to be realistic, this is probably more like a 10-2 caliber team that falls a bit short of a BCS bowl berth. However, the Mustangs definitely have a shot at being this year's BCS-buster.

For more (it's Insider content), click here.

Rapid Reax: SMU comeback falls short

December, 30, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- SMU fell behind 16-0 and scored twice in the second half to make it 16-14, but couldn't quite come all the way back.

A few random thoughts from today's Armed Forces Bowl:

* SMU's Kyle Padron looked like a different quarterback in the second half. He struggled in the first half with two interceptions and a lost fumble. He seemed a bit out of sync and had some overthrows and tried to throw the ball into some tight spots. That wasn't the case in the second half. He was much more comfortable and led the Mustangs on a 92-yard drive in the third quarter and a 74-yard drive in the fourth quarter to alter the momentum. He made some smart decisions and helped lead his team back into the game.

* SMU started the game with a huge play as Padron threw deep to Aldrick Robinson for 45 yards to put SMU at the Army 35-yard line. Padron threw the ball against the wind and it was underthrown, but Robinson made a nice play on the ball to snatch it.

* Army's Josh McNary made a nice play on that first drive, sacking Padron and forcing a fumble. Chad Littlejohn picked it up and showed good speed, scampering 55 yards to the end zone to give Army the 7-0 lead. Padron got turned around and didn't secure the ball well enough.

* Wind didn't make things easy on kickers, either. Matt Szymanski missed a 35-yard field goal into the wind in the first quarter as he moved to his right. He missed a 47-yarder with 4:05 left in the fourth quarter (against the wind again) that would have given SMU the lead.

* SMU sophomore defensive end Margus Hunt blocked a PAT on Army's second score. It was Hunt's third blocked kick in 2010 and the 10th of his career. He had seven blocked kicks in 2009 as a freshman, a SMU record and tied for second-most in a season in NCAA history.

* Army's triple option gave the SMU defense fits in its first two drives, but the Mustangs adjusted. It was SMU's defensive unit that kept the Mustangs in the game despite the offensive struggles. Give defensive coordinator Tom Mason some credit for finding a way to slow down Army enough to keep the Mustangs around.

* Army quarterback Trent Steelman, a sophomore, ran the triple option well and made smart decisions. The Black Knights weren't afraid to roll him out on run-pass options and he was able to make some key plays. When Army needed a first down late in the fourth quarter after SMU used its final timeout, Steelman rolled out and ran for six yards to get the first down by a yard.

* SMU attempted its second fake punt of the season as Szymanski took the snap and didn't have anyone coming across the line to his left, so he tucked and ran for 18 yards to convert a first down. SMU ended up missing the field goal on that drive in the first quarter.

* SMU attempted to get its inside running game going with Zach Line, who had more success doing that in the second half. He also did a nice job of picking up blocks on Army blitzes. Line is a very good inside runner and he showed that best with an 8-yard carry when he shed a tackler at the line of scrimmage and kept churning his legs despite three tacklers on him to get a first down in the fourth quarter. Line found a lot more room in the late stages of the game as Army's defense got tired.

* Line had more than 100 yards rushing for the seventh game this season.

* SMU sophomore WR Darius Johnson made a great catch in the corner of the end zone, concentrating to make the play despite good coverage. The TD made it a 16-14 game and got the crowd fully into the game.

* Army linebacker Stephen Anderson had a memorable game. The senior had an interception and made some great tackles, including one on Zach Line inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter (SMU did score on the drive).

* Army fullback Jared Hassin was a load to bring down for SMU. He had plenty of carries and got some tough yards as the Black Knights ran out the clock.

* Great call by the Army offensive coaches on 3rd-and-5 with just over a minute left. Needing a first down to seal the game, Army called a rollout pass and completed it to win the game.

* SMU receiver Keenan Holman, a freshman, made a nice catch across the middle on third down to move the chains on a SMU drive early in the fourth quarter. He did it again on a third-and-5 in the fourth quarter. Holman had a solid game that should give him some confidence.

* Both schools sold out their allotment of tickets to the game and a nice walkup crowd made for a nearly completely full stadium. A Ford Stadium record of 36,000-plus attended the game.

* I liked the SMU touch of wearing black jerseys in honor of the Black Knights. The Mustangs still had their traditional home pants with the stripes and the white SMU helmet with the red Mustang. But, as it should, the whole bowl had a military feel to it.

SMU offense can't get going against UCF

December, 4, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- SMU quarterback Kyle Padron put some of the blame on himself for the Mustangs’ offensive struggles in Saturday’s 17-7 loss to UCF in the Conference USA championship game.

But he also knew where to place the credit.

“Their front-7 did a very good job,” Padron said. “They played well and were prepared. But I have to play better.”

For the first time all season the Mustangs didn’t have a point in the first half. And the SMU offense, which scored at least 14 points in every game this season, was held to just seven.

UCF pressured Padron, forcing him out of the pocket. The linebackers held the Mustangs’ running game in check, keeping Zach Line below the 100-yard mark, a rarity in 2010. And the secondary bothered SMU, knocking balls down and forcing Padron to try to fit balls into tight areas.

“We knew we were only going to have a few opportunities to make big plays in the passing game and we had three chances early, but couldn’t do it,” SMU coach June Jones said. “I thought Kyle hung in there. We didn’t protect him very well.”

Pardon had a chance early in the game with the Mustangs driving when he threw a deep ball to the left side of the end zone to an open Aldrick Robinson. But the throw sailed over Robinson, and the Mustangs ended up missing a field goal and stalling out.

Padron was 18-for-34 passing for 220 yards and one touchdown. He wasn’t happy with the completion rate, saying he has to be more accurate, and the two interceptions proved costly.

The big momentum changer was in the third quarter. After UCF went on an 85-yard drive to take a 17-0 lead, the Mustangs worked their way into UCF territory. Jones, knowing his team needed to score to get back in the game, went for it on fourth-and-7 at the UCF 39-yard line. Padron made his best throw of the game, firing a laser to Keenan Holman on an out route to the sidelines.

But on the next play, Pardon tried a long out route to Robinson to the other side and threw it to the wrong shoulder, going to the inside shoulder instead of the outside shoulder.

“The defensive back made a nice play and got to the ball,” Robinson said.

Padron wasn’t happy with his execution.

“You can’t throw an out route behind the receiver to opposite hash,” Padron said. “I knew it was going to be behind him. We worked on that all week. You just can’t throw behind him.”

The offense actually outgained UCF by five yards, totaling 317 yards. But SMU didn’t convert the key plays early and then were left scrambling through the air after falling behind by three possessions in the third quarter.

“We kept trying to mix it up,” Jones said. “We dropped some balls and had a holding penalty that killed a drive early in the game. When you’re not doing it efficiently as you need to be, it wasn’t good enough to win.”

Rapid Reaction: Central Florida 17, SMU 7

December, 4, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Central Florida scored a touchdown midway through the third quarter to take control and held on for the 17-7 victory to win the Conference USA championship game.

Some thoughts:

* SMU is likely headed to the Armed Forces Bowl, which will be played at Ford Stadium in Dallas because of the renovation work at TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

* I can't remember a first half this season, especially in C-USA, being that short (about 75 minutes). The teams had seven combined drives and five of them went for more than 10 plays, helping to chew up the clock. The half ended on a UCF field goal to make it 10-0.

* Injuries have hurt SMU this season, and they hurt again Saturday. Sterling Moore's left knee, which has given him trouble for much of the year, was banged up again in the second quarter. Youri Yenga was also hurt in the first half on what appeared to be a leg injury as he missed a tackle on UCF QB Jeff Godfrey and then went down. With just over nine minutes left in the game, cornerback Bennie Thomas needed attention and was taken to the sidelines.

* Godfrey sure can run. He's only a freshman, but the quarterback can make things happen with his feet. There were numerous times when he made the first tackler miss, allowing for positive yardage. He's still raw and a few times ran when he had open receivers on secondary routes, but you can tell he's got a chance to really grow in the UCF offense.

* The UCF crowd was doing the wave while the Knights were on offense early in the third quarter. Just thought I'd mention it, because I don't get why you'd do the wave with your team on offense in a close game early in the second half. But they did seem to enjoy it.

* UCF RB Latavius Murray was the MVP of the game with 115 total yards, 94 on the ground. He had both touchdowns.

* SMU QB Kyle Padron had an up-and-down day, not unlike his sophomore season. The best example was late in the third quarter. Padron converted a fourth down with a laser on an out route to Keenan Holman for 12 yards. But on the next play, he threw the ball to the wrong shoulder (inside instead of outside) to Aldrick Robinson and it was intercepted. That basically ended SMU's hopes with the Mustangs down 17-0 at that point. Padron did have some passes dropped and he tried to make things happen with his feet when he was flushed out of the pocket. But the Mustangs couldn't make enough plays. He had a couple of overthrows on deep balls as well (one to Robinson, who was open in the end zone, in the first half). Padron was 18-of-34 passing for 220 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

* UCF cornerback Josh Robinson, who had the INT, also broke up several deep balls and had an excellent game in coverage.

* UCF WRs Kamar Aiken and Brian Watters (among others) took advantage of Moore's absence for big plays across the middle. The SMU secondary had trouble making tackles and the UCF wide receivers were physical and made some nice runs after catches.

* RB Zach Line got away for one long run, a 23-yard scamper in the first half. Line, who has averaged 108. 1 yards per game to lead C-USA, rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries.

* LB Taylor Reed played well on defense for the Mustangs. Before the fourth quarter was barely a minute old, he had 10 tackles, including eight solos, and two sacks.

* WR Darius Johnson, who did not play last week due to a knee injury, had nine catches for 105 yards to lead all Mustangs receivers.

* WR Cole Beasley had a few catches, and one was particularly impressive. He was turned around, reached up and snagged the ball and then kept control while he hit the ground as the Mustangs drove deep into UCF territory in the fourth quarter.

* WR Aldrick Robinson's touchdown marked the seventh straight game in which he's scored a TD.

* LB Justin Smart got his first sack of the 2010 season and did a nice job in place of Yenga. He got into the backfield several times and was in on a gaggle of tackles.

SMU's Kyle Padron says ankle feeling better

November, 30, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK -- SMU quarterback Kyle Padron took it easy on his left ankle during practice in chilly conditions inside Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Tuesday morning. Padron was able to move around and said the swelling is going down. He and coach June Jones don't expect the ankle to be a problem in Saturday's Conference USA championship game against Central Florida.

He injured the ankle in the third quarter of SMU's 45-38 overtime win at East Carolina, but played through it. He smiled when asked how much the ankle swelled up after the game.

"I feel like a weatherman trying to give you the size," Padron joked, when asked if it was golf ball, soft ball or grapefruit size. "It was pretty big. But it's gone down. It's been getting better every day and I've been getting treatment on it. I think by Saturday I'll be about 95 to 100 percent."

Padron, who said the ankle has a dull pain to it, jogged before practice and felt OK. He was also riding a stationary bike some while his teammates ran sprints to finish the workout.

Padron, a sophomore, set the school single-season record with 3,306 yards passing and 32 TDs (28 pass and four rushing).

June Jones pumps up No. 4 TCU 'D'

September, 23, 2010
Gary Patterson's vaunted TCU defense is right back at the top of the charts despite losing two players to the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

These days, the Horned Frogs simply re-load.

After three games, TCU is ranked No. 4 in the nation in total defense, allowing 222.7 yards a game. They've yet to give up 200 yards passing in a game or 100 yards rushing.

"Their defense is the best defense I've looked at in 10 years I've been in college football," said SMU coach June Jones, whose Mustangs take on the fourth-ranked Frogs Friday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. "They know what they’re doing. They’re well-coached, they know their schemes, they know how to play football. They play fast and do they do what they do, like all great teams do, and make you adjust."

Jones called this season's unit better than last year's that led the nation in total defense (239.7 ypg).

They limited pro-style Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz to 159 yards passing and dangerous tailback Jacquizz Rodgers to 75 yards on 18 carries. Elusive Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was held to 164 yards passing and 21 yards rushing on 14 carries.

About the only thing the Frogs defense hasn't done much of yet is make picks. They have just one, from junior cornerback Jason Teague, on 70 pass attempts.

They'll get plenty of opportunities to make plays Friday night against Jones' spread offense led by impressive sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron. The Mustangs are averaging 35.3 pass attempts and a less-than-expected 224.0 yards a game through the air. Padron has thrown three interceptions. Surprisingly, they've been quite effective running the ball, averaging 165.3 yards a game. Sophomore Zach Line is averaging 7.7 yards a carry and 92.0 yards a game.

Jones knows his still-evolving offense has its hands full against the fast and physically imposing Frogs defense.

"That's a statement they make every game they go play. They play very physical and they play hard," Jones said. "That’s what they’re going to try to do against us or they’re going to try to do it against Ohio State."

Tommy Tuberville promised risk-taking

September, 6, 2010
This is part of our Monday Morning Quarterback series, designed to give you a quick look at some things we learned from Saturday's college football action. Let's look at some brief items from Texas Tech's victory over SMU:

Tommy Tuberville wasn't in Lubbock long before he was quickly reminded that there wasn't a fourth-down situation that his predecessor didn't like. Tuberville said not to worry. He said he's not crazy, but he's not exactly conservative either. He proved it Sunday in the fourth quarter when he kept the offense on the field for a fourth-and-1 from its own 34 despite leading 35-20 with 9:37 to go.

Quarterback Taylor Potts, who threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns, was under center and not in the shotgun. He bobbled the snap and SMU took over at the 32 and scored to make it 35-27.

Potts said he liked the aggressive call.

"That was a great call. Coach calls it and expects me to get a first down. I need to do it. The snap was my fault," Potts said. "I've got to come back with [center] Justin [Keown] this week and work on it. If he expects us to get a first down, we need to do it. We kind of fell short on that one and that's my fault."

Tuberville took the onus off his quarterback.

"I put them in a bind by going for that fourth down," Tuberville said. "I forgot we don't take many snaps underneath the center. I've got to get that out of my mind, but that was my fault and my call."

*Potts and wide receiver Lyle Leong had a huge day, connecting 11 times for 142 yards, both career highs for Leong, and three touchdowns, which tied his career-best. Yes, the two have a feel for one another. They were high school teammates at Abilene High School.

Asked if that was there best game together, Potts had to ponder that for a moment: "I have no idea. Maybe. Maybe better in elementary school. I don't know."

*So much attention has been paid to how coach Tommy Tuberville would alter the Red Raiders' famous aerial attack. Well, Potts put the ball in the air more than 30 times -- in the first half. He finished with 34 completions on 53 attempts. But, what about the defense, Tuberville's specialty?

A defensive scheme promising a more aggressive approach in sacking the quarterback paid off with three sacks of SMU sophomore quarterback Kyle Padron. Tech also intercepted Padron three times -- by three different defenders -- and held the Ponies to 218 yards on 21-of-38 passing.

"We played a lot of nickel, a lot of dime, a lot of six DBs. With a passing attack like SMU's, they know what they're doing passing the ball," Tuberville said. "They had us a little confused at times. We gave up 200 yards passing, which is probably a little bit too much, but they had us confused. But, that's what first games are about. We'll get into more of a rhythm, guys will know what to expect and hopefully we'll play a little bit better. But, overall I thought they graded out well for the first time out as a group."

*The Tech ground game certainly didn't come through as expected. The Red Raiders finished with 431 yards of total offense with just 72 yards coming on 31 rushes. Baron Batch had a team-high 52 yards on 15 carries, not a great start on the senior's quest to become the first Tech tailback to eclipse 1,000 yards since the 1990s.

O'Brien list loaded with top-notch Texas QBs

July, 14, 2010
Two Metroplex quarterbacks, five Big 12 passers and another signal-caller in the state of Texas were selected to the 30-man Davey O'Brien Award watch list that was released Wednesday. The award is given to college football's top quarterback.

SMU sophomore Kyle Padron heads into a highly anticipated sophomore season after leading the Mustangs to its first bowl game in a quarter-century. He threw for 460 yards and two touchdowns in the 45-10 victory over Nevada to run away with the MVP trophy.

To the west, TCU senior Andy Dalton is finally on the national radar as a top-notch quarterback. He heads into his final season attempting to guide the Horned Frogs to a second consecutive BCS bowl berth.

The five Big 12 quarterbacks on the list are: Robert Griffin (Baylor), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M), Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma).

Houston quarterback Case Keenum, who opted to return to school rather than enter the NFL draft, is also a nominee.

The list will be narrowed to 16 semifinalists on Oct. 25 and pared to three finalists on Nov. 22. Texas' Colt McCoy won the 2009 honor.

Are state's two best QBs in DFW?

January, 28, 2010
That might be taking things a bit far, what with Jerrod Johnson returning to Texas A&M, Robert Griffin coming back from injury at Baylor and Texas Tech having an interesting dual upcoming with Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield.

But, the Metroplex has got a couple of good ones. Fans are well acquainted with TCU's Andy Dalton, who led the Horned Frogs to the Fiesta Bowl and returns for his senior season. More are becoming familiar with SMU QB Kyle Padron who had a fine freshman season and broke out in a big way in the Hawaii Bowl by throwing for a school-record 460 yards and two touchdowns in the Mustangs' first bowl game since 1984. He was named the game's MVP.

Both Padron and Dalton will be among nine returning players given the Touchdown Club of Columbus' Award of Distinction during their awards banquet on Feb. 6.

The seven other honorees are WRs James Cleveland (Houston) and Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh), RB Jeremy Avery (Boise State) and a foursome of Ohio State Buckeyes in LB Brian Rolle, DL Cameron Heyward and WRs DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher.

Mustangs take huge step forward

December, 25, 2009
I'll be the first to admit that I didn't predict SMU dominating a good Nevada team. But from the opening series, it was clear SMU wasn't just in Hawaii to play in a bowl and have some fun. They wanted to finish a turnaround season with a big win. And they did.

While Kyle Padron broke school records and put up 460 yards passing, it's the defense that has to encourage Mustang fans the most. They didn't allow Nevada much of anything (the final touchdown wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when the game was over).

The win is another reminder of how far the program has come this season. It's well ahead of schedule. First, SMU makes a bowl game for the first time in 25 years. Then they get a winning season before getting to Hawaii. Now they've followed that up with a victory in the postseason game. Amazing stuff.

It's a young team that returns plenty at key positions next year. Padron, just a freshman, has a bright future in June Jones' system. There's little doubt SMU is back and the Ponies have staying power.

Giddyup, Ponies win big

December, 24, 2009
June Jones finally broke a smile at the end of SMU's sweet return to postseason play. The Mustangs just wrapped up a 45-10 throttling of shorthanded Nevada from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. It was the school's first bowl victory and first bowl appearance since 1984.

Let the luau begin. And may the 1986 death penalty finally RIP.

"I think they’re starting to realize it," Jones said earlier this week of his players understanding the depth of the death penalty, a punishment handed down by the NCAA before these players were even born. "And they’ll really realize it probably 10 years from now."

Jones' run-and-shoot offense kicked into high gear virtually instantaneously with a 71-yard Kyle Padron bomb to receiver Cole Beasley on the second play of the game. One play later it was 7-0 and the rout was on. The Mustangs racked up 534 yards of total offense with Padron, a true freshman from Southlake Carroll, throwing all over the Wolf Pack to the tune of 460 yards. Padron completed 32-of-41 passes including a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions.

The SMU defense laid down its best peformance of the season, keeping Nevada without a touchown until its final possession of the game. The Wolf Pack was missing its two star, 1,000-yard running backs, so clearly this wasn't the Nevada team that came in as the nation's most potent rushing attack. The Mustangs held the Pack to 137 rushing yards. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, also a 1,000-yard rusher, legged out just 23 yards without his usual backfield mates to support him.

He racked up some late passing yardage, but this game was all about the Ponies' remarkable turnaround from a 1-11 season last year and 25 years of futility.

And what a day for SMU's receiving corps. Junior speedster Aldrick Robinson was indefensible on deep routes. He hauled in nine catches for a team-high 176 yards. Senior Emmanuel Sanders, who leaves SMU with a handful of school receiving records, finished his career with seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Beasley had three catches for 88 yards and tailback Shawnbrey McNeal caught seven balls for 53 yards and rushed for 63 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.

SMU finished the year 8-5, its most victories since going 10-2 in 1984 when they defeated Notre Dame, 27-20, in the now-defunct Aloha Bowl.

Perhaps on the long flight home, Jones will allow himself time to bask in the success of the 2009 season, one that will go down as a monumental triumph and will for once signal boundless optimism heading into 2010.

"I think when we get the recruiting class signed up in February, we’ll come up for air and realize that when we have those 24, 25 players," Jones said, "that we’re all of a sudden a whole lot better athletically than we’ve been to add to this young group here."