UNIVERSITY PARK — Off-season construction at Gerald Ford Stadium on the SMU campus is nearing completion, and so is June Jones' off-season work with his football team.
"Yeah, they've been working on that," Jones said. "It looks like they’re about done, so hopefully it'll be ready game day."
Game day is just four days away, Friday August 30. That's when the Mustangs will host Texas Tech, opening the season on national TV.
"It’s going to be a lot of fun," said SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert. "We're playing a Big 12 opponent and one that's really going to test us, so we're excited about it. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Facing Texas Tech in the season opener provides a unique challenge. The Red Raiders have a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury. He has a new system, so the only way SMU can get ready for this game is to rely on history.
"Well, we've played him while he was at A&M," Jones said. "We also played him at Houston, so we obviously have a little background on him just like he has a little bit of background on us."
Kingsbury left Texas A&M after helping Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
"Coming here it was a system that they were running, it wasn't far from what we're doing now," Kingsbury said. "So I think that's definitely going to help the learning curve."
Kingsbury said he has lots of concerns going into his first game as a head coach — everything from his players to his game plan.
"Yeah, I’m concerned about all of it," Kingsbury said. "You know it’s the first game, and so until you get out there under the lights, you really don't know what you have."
The Red Raiders have three potential starting quarterbacks, none of whom have ever taken a snap in college.
Not so for SMU, as Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert starts his second and final season at quarterback. He says he feels a lot more comfortable this year.
"I don't know if there is a number that I can put on it, it’s quite a bit," Gilbert says. "I feel like it's night and day from where I was at this time last year from even where I was during the season last year."
For SMU, it’s the first of four non-conference games before starting play in the American Athletic Conference, an automatic qualifying member of the BCS.