SMU football’s head coach Sonny Dykes reflected on their loss on the road to Michigan and his expectations for the upcoming conference opener against Navy on Monday night at Ozona Bar and Grill for his weekly radio talkshow “It’s Always Sonny on the Hilltop”.
— SMU Athletics (@SMUMustangs) September 17, 2018
The Mustangs traveled to Ann Arbor, MI, to face the Michigan Wolverines last Saturday. Although the SMU fell 20-45 in the “Big House”, Dykes saw improvements on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Mustangs debuted a fresh lineup with new starters.
“As a coach you have to figure out who are your best five and then figure out how to get them out of the field,” said Dykes. “We felt like those were our best five and gave us our best chance at being successful.”
On the receiving end, with Reggie Roberson, Jr. and CJ Sanders out with injuries, junior James Proche had some big shoes to fill. He did just that, recording 11 catches, 166 yards and two touchdowns, with another called back.
“Proche had a big game. He was really dialed in,” said Dykes. “He had a good week in practice. I think that’s so important for our players to see the success he had in practice and how it carried over to the game on Saturday.”
Proche proved consistent when Dykes swapped starting quarterback Ben Hicks out for freshman William Brown. After Hicks threw a momentum-shifting interception right before the half, Dykes made the decision to try something new.
“When you look at the first half Ben had played his best game, right until the interception,” said Dykes. “He’s doing some big things and getting better, but I felt like at that point we had to make a change and see what the young guy can do, and I was really impressed with what we saw.”
The freshman from Rosenberg, Texas, threw for 82 yards and two passing touchdowns.
“He never blinked. He rolled right in there and played football and played really tough,” said Dykes. “He got hit a bunch and jumped right up and never paused. All the things you want to see from a young player at that position, he showed us. I was really proud of what he did.”
Now that Dykes has seen what each quarterback can do in the pocket, he faces a big decision in selecting a starter for the upcoming Navy game.
“We’ll see,” said Dykes. “We’re going to play out this week [in practice], and then we’ll make a decision, probably Friday or Saturday.”
After opening the season 0-3, the Mustangs are hoping to find a victory against Navy, and their unique offensive line, in their American Athletic Conference season opener.
“Navy is successful because they play hard and they play with great discipline. I think it’s what makes those kids special,” said Dykes. “Those are the kinds of kids that go to the Naval Academy – kids that are disciplined and kids that put out great effort, on the football field, in the classroom, for our country.”
Navy’s offensive line sets them apart from many other offensives in college football.
“I think it’s important that our defense works really hard this week to prepare for the triple option,” said Emmakate Few, Host of Pony Up TV and American Athletic Conference campus correspondent. “They worked really hard last week, but this is a totally different offense. They are going to have to be really disciplined in practice.”
Looking forward, Dykes noted his 18 current commitments from high school players, seven from within the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but will continue to be ambitiously recruiting until the final signing day.
“Recruiting is never over till it’s over,” said Dykes.
For now, Dykes and the Mustangs are focused on Saturday morning. The Mustangs will open conference play hosting the Navy Midshipmen at Ford Stadium, kicking off at 11 a.m.
“I think Sonny is doing a great job and I’m just hoping for a win on Saturday,” said Sarah Garrity, Director of SMU Athletics Hospitality. “With it being an early morning game, attendance should be pretty good.”
Following the game, Dykes will reconvene again at Ozona Bar and Grill on Monday at 7 p.m. for the next episode of “It’s Always Sonny on the Hilltop”, broadcast live on KAAM 770 AM.