SMU was the first thing that came to mind when quarterback Zach Smith thought about how he used the University of Tulsa’s bye week.
“Just started game-planning a little bit for SMU, starting working on that,” Smith said Tuesday.
The Golden Hurricane kicks off American Athletic Conference play against No. 24 SMU at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Dallas after a week off. TU was last on the field Sept. 21, when it defeated Wyoming 24-21 at H.A. Chapman Stadium to conclude nonconference play at 2-2.
“I thought (the bye week) came at a good time from a sense of allowing guys to kind of refresh a little bit, refocus and then understand conference play is right here upon is,” TU coach Philip Montgomery said. “We’ve gotta be ready to go. Would have loved to carry the momentum part of it (from the win), yes, but overall, I’ll take (the bye week) where it hit.”
Montgomery said TU started the week focusing on itself, especially taking advantage of the time to rest and heal minor injuries. He and the coaching staff started preparing for their next opponent early, though. The players were given this week’s game plan slowly, day-by-day, as last week progressed.
“We utilize that week to not only get our bodies back right, but we work on our opponent a little bit, too,” defensive end Trevis Gipson said. “We implemented in a couple practices, strategic-wise, getting ready for our game plan, at least. But for the most part, it was mainly just getting our bodies back — hitting the reset button, basically.”
Nonetheless, TU got a head start against an unbeaten SMU team that handled South Florida 48-21 on Saturday, while the Hurricane was watching from home. The win was the Mustangs’ conference opener, improving them to 5-0 and boosting SMU to its first appearance in the AP Top 25 since 1986.
“They’ve played great football all the way across as you look at their schedule and what they’ve done,” Montgomery said. “They really got after South Florida last week. Really, the game was over pretty early in the game, in my opinion, and so they’re playing extremely well.”