A second chance.
Most college football fans know that SMU is the only school the NCAA tacked the infamous "death penalty" on. SMU went from being the best team in the nation to over two decades of .500 records or worse. In 2009, Jones took a team that had two wins in two years to a 9-5 record that included a Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Championship. SMU has not missed a bowl season since.
Jones now looks to resurrect Garrett Gilbert's status as a premier quarterback who looks to one day play in the NFL.
If the Mustangs are going to beat the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Gilbert is going to have to be the quarterback he was recruited to be. The former Longhorn transfer was a standout at Lake Travis High School where he was a part of two 4A Texas State Championship teams.
Gilbert, like many blue chip recruits, went to Texas. As a Longhorn, Gilbert struggled and so did his team. Texas had its first losing season in the Mack Brown era in 2010 and Gilbert eventually sustained an injury. Case McCoy and David Ash started battling out for the Longhorns starting job and Gilbert ended up transferring.
In his first season at SMU, Gilbert continued his struggles. His interception total equaled his touchdown pass total at 15 apiece.
Against the Texas A&M Aggies in 2012, Gilbert was unable to throw a touchdown pass, but managed to get picked off once. Gilbert managed 203 yards through the air and had negative rushing yards. The Aggies linebackers coach that game was Matt Wallerstedt, who is now at Texas Tech as the defensive coordinator.
Texas A&M won the game 48-3. The Aggies had a freshman quarterback named Johnny Manziel, who happened to win the Heisman Trophy. The offensive coordinator was Kliff Kingsbury, who in case you missed it, will be making his head coaching debut with Texas Tech this Friday.
It could be déjà vu all over again for the Mustangs. There is one glimmer of hope for the Mustangs. It comes from another one of June Jones' revivals. Hal Mumme, the former Head Coach at Kentucky and New Mexico State, is the offensive coordinator at SMU. If there is something Mumme knows about, it's quarterbacks.
Former Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach was Mumme's offensive coordinator for several years at various places. Under Mumme and Leach, Tim Couch was the first overall draft pick out of Kentucky. The Wildcats went from consistently being a doormat to playing in bowl games under the original "Air Raid".
Gilbert may not have been at his best in 2012, because he took 27 credit hours in the previous spring semester to graduate from the University of Texas. The graduation allowed him to become immediately eligible at SMU. The time in Austin kept him away from the playing field.
Gilbert is currently in graduate school and is about to follow in the footsteps of Brennan, Timmy Chang, and Tim Couch as a quarterback in the systems of June Jones and Hal Mumme. Being the blue chip recruit, there is a lot of potential for Gilbert to be a Heisman darkhorse, but first he must lead the Mustangs to a win over the Red Raiders.
The Mustangs do not have a ton of talent defensively. Last season, SMU gave up more than 40 points on four occasions. Jones and Mumme have never been known to run the ball. The Mustangs ranked 110 in rushing attempts one year ago and barely cracked the top 100 in rushing yards.
The Mustangs are only going to go as far as Gilbert's arm will take them.