Thursday, October 12, 2000
SMU vs. HawaiiMike Cavan came through the jetway doors yesterday like a tailback spotting a hole on a cutback.
Saturday 6:05 p.m.
Mustangs gallop in,
hope to dash out
Southern Methodist is
desperate for a win and in
search of an error-free game
By Paul Arnett
The Southern Methodist head coach stopped long enough to acknowledge a small gathering awaiting the football team's arrival from Dallas as the Mustangs prepare for the University of Hawaii this Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
But it was one of those campaign-stop handshakes, "It's good you could come. Yeah, it's a beautiful place. Oh, you're so right. We need a win."
"Well, hope to see you Saturday night after the game. Thank y'all for stopping by."
Cavan spun out of that encounter and thought he saw daylight, only to be cut off by a pair of local reporters.
It wasn't exactly what he had in mind when he began his Wednesday at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. "OK," he thought to himself. "Let me check my itinerary. Board at 11 a.m. Find my first-class seat. Spend the next eight hours to Honolulu being wined and dined. Exit the plane and talk to two reporters about how things are going."
They aren't going particularly well. After a promising victory over the University of Kansas in a new and sold out Gerald Ford Stadium, the Ponies wandered off the track and haven't been seen or heard from since.
In their place is a team that has dropped five in a row, including two Western Athletic Conference games at Texas-El Paso and last weekend at home to surprising San Jose State. Things are so out of kilter, Cavan pulled starting quarterback Josh McCown and put in his place a junior college transfer named David Page, whose Division I life is all of four passes old.
"We had to do something about the turnovers," Cavan said of McCown, who has thrown 14 interceptions for the season and eight in the last two games.
"We just couldn't keep doing what we were doing."
And so the Mustangs will begin on a new page this weekend in hopes of writing a better chapter for the disappointing 2000 season. The young gun is the son of a U.S. State Department official, who took his family any and everywhere.
Page spent three years in Korea and always dreamed of being a Division I quarterback. For a while, he entertained the thought of coming here, but when that partnership didn't come to fruition, he opted for the private school life at SMU.
"One reason I chose SMU was for the academics," Page said. "But I always hated the Dallas Cowboys. When we weren't oversees, we lived in Virginia, I pulled for the Washington Redskins. You can't like both of them."
What Cavan would like to see is an error-free game from his junior quarterback. He doesn't have to do anything spectacular, just find a way to win.
Two weeks ago, SMU came close to doing just that in Houston, only to come away with a 17-15 loss on a missed field goal late.
"That one hurt because we gave ourselves a chance to win and couldn't get it done," Cavan said. "Turns out that our losses at UTEP and North Carolina State weren't as bad because both teams have turned out to be very good.
"But we're a lot like Hawaii. We've done some things well. Just not enough to overcome our mistakes. We've moved the ball well enough on offense (367.7 yards a game), but we haven't scored enough points (15.5 a game)."
SMU hasn't stopped its opponents, either.
Teams are averaging 29 points a game, and poor special teams play has proved costly on too many occasions.
"We've decided to come over here and do the same kind of things the last time we played here two years ago," said Cavan. That night, the Mustangs won their first game of the season after losing their first four. The present isn't that much different from the past.
"It would be good if we could get a win here and finish strong over the second half of the season," Cavan said.
"But right now, I've got to get to practice."
2000 UH Football Special