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Monday, September 30, 2013

SMU's June Jones prepares for larger talent pool in Rutgers, new conference

SMU head coach June Jones, who has also coached in the NFL and USFL, says the Mustangs' matchup with Rutgers features two noticeably different systems. (AP Photo)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Rutgers' first conference game in the American couldn't be more appropriate: an opponent with so few ties to the Northeast its last result against a team from the region was in 1989.

SMU, which hosts Rutgers on Saturday, has a playing style to match. The Mustangs' pass-run ratio is more than 2-to-1. Their coach, June Jones, has produced two of the most statistically prolific quarterbacks in NCAA history with his run-and-shoot offense.

He figures he'll need to so again with his latest protege, Garrett Gilbert, against the Scarlet Knights.

"I think the new conference, for us," Jones said Monday during the American conference call, "the talent pool is higher than what we have been playing against in Conference USA."

IN PRINT: Leonte Carroo proves a quick study in gaining edge on defenders

Rutgers will likely employ a pass-defense-friendly personnel group against SMU, which has thrown more than 60 passes twice this season. It will have to do so without Jamal Merrell, who played a significant role flanked as a corner-linebacker hybrid Aug. 29 at Fresno State.

Merrell, dealing with a kidney injury, is out, via the team's weekly injury report. Any update on his status will now come exclusively from head coach Kyle Flood. Questions directly to players about health-related issues are prohibited, per an updated policy. 

["I think the new conference, for us, the talent pool is higher than what we have been playing against in Conference USA." — June Jones]

Rutgers will continue to rotate sophomore Quentin Gause and redshirt freshman Davon Jacobs in Merrell's absence. Gause will start against SMU. Junior Kevin Snyder will serve in a backup role.

MORE: Gareef Glashen to miss next two games

"They do a lot of different things, but they seem to know what they're doing," Jones said. "Athletically up front they move around really good. It looks like they can run. We're going to have to make plays both in the run game and in the passing game to beat them."

You can access the rest of Jones' teleconference here (courtesy of the American Athletic Conference):


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