1. SMU Missed a Bowl Game for the first time in 4-years in 2013
The Mustangs snapped a bowl game streak of 4 seasons in 2013, with their 5-7 campaign. It was June Jones worst season on the Hilltop since his first in Dallas. The Mustangs were hurt by an incredibly difficult non-conference schedule in blowout losses to TCU, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. With an American Conference opening loss to Rutgers, the Mustangs fell to 1-4. The next five games though, they went 4-1 to rebound before two season ending losses to Houston and conference champion UCF.
2. Linebackers as Running backs
The Mustangs rushing attack in 2013 was pretty nonexistent, even for a pass-happy team. They were 8th in the nation in passing yards per game at 341.4 yards/game but 119th in rushing yards with just 93.8 yards/game. Their leading rusher is former linebacker Prescott Line, the brother of former star running back/battering ram Zach Line. Prescott is a similarly built player at 6-foot and over 230 pounds.
However, K.C. Niemchi and Kevin Pope appear to be the leading rushing options for June Jones, with Line being used more as a blocker. Pope is another player that has transitioned from linebacker. The Mustangs are desperately searching for more of a rushing attack, and are turning over every stone on their roster.
3. Who is their Quarterback?
SMU QB Neal Burcham
With the news this spring that former top recruit Matt Davis was transferring to SMU, many (including myself) thought the Mustangs had their next quarterback. However, Davis has struggled to pick up the playbook and has looked tentative in practice. This has opened the door for Neal Burcham, who has looked excellent according to reports. Burcham has been taking the majority of first team snaps recently and appears to be in the driver’s seat. In limited play backing up Garrett Gilbert, the sophomore passed for 556 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
4. Returning Talent on the Lines
The Mustangs are returning 3 main starters from the offensive line, including center Taylor Lasecki who has 25 career starts. They also have both of their tackles back as well. At the guard spots and behind those three starters are a lot of younger players with little experience. The offensive line is a question mark for the Mustangs at this point of the season.
The defensive side of the ball returns pretty much their entire rotation and has turned from a very young unit to an experienced one the last few years. The line has
5. The Expectations are low in Dallas
With a defense that is rebuilding its secondary and still trying to build impactful depth, and an offense that will be breaking in a new quarterback with a shaky rushing attack, the Mustangs are not expected to make a lot of noise this year. The schedule again is a rough one, with them playing Baylor, Texas A&M and TCU in three of their first four games. They also travel to UNT after the Baylor game, so a loss there would probably push them to 0-4. Another slow start could derail the season before conference play again.
The Mustangs have a lot of young talent in Burcham, Nlemchi, Lasecki and quite a few defensive players that could be multiple year starters for them. This is a rebuilding year for SMU, one in which they are hoping to get to 6 wins and start another bowl streak.