From The Other Side: SMU

Each week, will dig deeper into the opponent by interviewing a media member from the opposing team. This week Billy Embody, from Poney Stampede, helps us learn more about SMU.

In our first question and answer series, BearsIllustrated caught up with Poney Stampedes Publisher, Billy Embody to dig deeper in to SMU and answer questions regarding the upcoming game against the SMU Mustangs and Baylor Bears.

--- It seems SMU will be strongest on the defensive side of the ball. Who are a couple of players Baylor fans should look out for on defense?

Darrion Richardson, in the secondary, has had a great camp after playing extensively the last couple games of last year. He’s physical even though he’s the smallest starter in the secondary. Stephon Sanders is a freak athlete at outside linebacker and expect him to step up for his senior year. He has to get better in coverage, but Sanders is tough to handle off the edge and SMU’s linebackers overall could really get some pressure on Baylor if they run their zone-blitz schemes well. At defensive line, SMU was poised to return all three starters, but Beau Barnes moved to linebacker giving way to true sophomore Zelt Minor to get the starting nod at one defensive end positions. Minor was a top recruit from Houston Lamar and has the talent to make a big jump for SMU this year.

--- What do you feel are things that SMU needs to do on defense to slow down Baylor’s offensive attack?

Play physical in the secondary. Bump the Baylor receivers and play with passion. SMU’s front seven has the opportunity to put some pressure on Bryce Petty with the depth that SMU seems to have up front and athleticism they bring. The problem will be Baylor’s receivers. If they can get behind and break free from SMU’s secondary, Petty will be able to pick apart the secondary. If SMU doesn’t allow the Baylor receivers to get into their routes, Petty may be forced to go to his second and third options and maybe the front seven can hit and sack Petty.

--- With Neal Burcham recently being named starting QB, what are some things he brings to the offense?

A solid understanding of what the staff wants to do on offense. You could say the last few years, SMU has had a bit of an identity crisis on offense. Whether or not to run the ball, use Garrett Gilbert in the running game, going more horizontal than vertical, etc. This year, with Neal Burcham at the helm, SMU knows it wants to go more vertical and Burcham has the understanding to make the right reads. Will he have time against a talented Baylor front? That’s another question.

--- What are the general expectations of the fan base heading in to this season? And what are their expectations leading in to this Sunday’s game?

SMU fans think Baylor could hang 70 on the Mustangs. Honestly, it’s not even about SMU’s defense as much as it is about Bryce Petty and the offense. The fans think SMU will score 20 or so points, most in garbage time, but not get completely shut out. Most everyone is taking Baylor on the spread in this one. All hail Petty basically.

For the season, most think five or six wins this season. It’s mainly about how SMU gets through their non-conference schedule, if SMU beats UNT, most think they’ll make a bowl, but if they don’t people are going to have the pitchforks out for June Jones I’d imagine. Fans will revolt if SMU starts 0-6 and Jones is still on the sideline. Tough start to the season, but the expectation to win six games is still there.

--- What do you believe SMU has to do to come out with a win and what is your prediction for the game?

SMU has to run the football very well to take pressure off of Burcham and keep the Bears offense on the sideline. Will the Mustangs run the ball? History says no, but Jones has one of the better top-to-bottom backfields he’s had at SMU. SMU has to win the turnover battle. However that happens, SMU has to win it to give them a chance. Burcham playing mistake free will be key. Special teams were terrible last year so limiting explosive plays from Baylor and make some of their own would help.

I’ve wrestled with whether or not SMU will get to 20 some points, but I’m going to go 56-17 Baylor. Petty will play out of his mind in the first game in McLane Stadium. I think Petty will be sitting after his first drive in the third quarter. That’s not a dig at SMU, but just how much respect I have for Petty. He’s my Heisman pick and the season opener will be the first step in winning the prestigious award and the Big 12.

BearsIllustrated wants to thank Billy Embody for taking the time to answer questions. Baylor fans be sure to follow Billy on twitter @billyembody and @smuscout and also at Poney Stampede for all information on SMU leading up to the 6:30 pm kickoff on Sunday, August 31st at McLane Stadium.

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