Four passes into the game against the Aggies, June Jones had replaced Kyle Padron–the starter for two years–and replaced him with JJ McDermott. JJ is a senior, and is the player Padron replaced two games into the season back in 2007. As I have so eloquently stated at least once, Padron has a tendency to stare down receivers, not go through his progressions, and force passes. SMU *cough June Jones cough* also tends to rely on a passing attack when the passing attack isn’t working. Zach Line did about as good as any running back is going to do against the Aggies this year (128 total yards and almost 6 yards a carry), and pretty much dominated in the first half of the game. Yet instead of pushing through a tough second half (the Aggies had clamped down on the run game) with a running attack that would keep more Aggie defenders in the box, SMU seemed to panic and go to a pass
only first offense.
All this is just to say that neither Padron or JJ were going to win the game against the Aggies…it was only going to happen through a steady run game and great defense. Padron was playing horribly on the first two possession, and the replacement by JJ was a good move that saved the game from being 33-0 in the first half. However, I am still not completely decided on whether moving to JJ as the starter is an advantage. He throws the ball smarter and is a much “safer” option because he won’t win a game or lose a game single-handedly. He is about as accurate as Padron, except he doesn’t make the rash decisions that Padron tends to make. If he uses his head, that will mean that there are less sacks (if he doesn’t, it will mean more sacks and more fumbles). He also has 50 pound bricks for feet. The only tangible advantage of Padron at this point is that he can run, which adds another dimension to the offense. However, with Zach playing so well I don’t think this is a huge loss. All-in-all, JJ appears to be better for SMU right now.
The next couple of games are against teams that SMU should beat handily, and the qb (whoever he may be) should dominate. As a result, it will be hard to tell who will be better in the big-game situations. JJ will probably be the starter at least until the TCU game, which will be the big test for him. If he comes out of that game having played well, look for him to finish up the season as the starter, taking SMU to the C-USA championship and a bowl game.