From The Other Side: SMU

The Bears open up the 2015 season with very high expectations. With Friday fast approaching, BearsIllustrated reached out to Billy Embody, Publisher with Ponystampede.com to talk SMU and Baylor.

The Bears open up the 2015 season with very high expectations. With Friday fast approaching, BearsIllustrated reached out to Billy Embody, Publisher with Ponystampede.com to talk SMU and Baylor.

1. How has Coach Morris begun to change the culture of the program and how are players and fans reacting to that change?

Energy and tempo. That’s how it’s been done. It truly has been a shot in the arm to the program to see someone operate with such intensity and drive everyday and that’s something the team is picking up on. Morris has brought accountability to the team and made the players take ownership of the team. Players and fans alike have been loving every second of it so far. He’s engaging, genuine and like I said, energetic. That’s something SMU fans needed the most was someone who brought energy and he’s certainly done that.

2. As SMU enters this season, what are the expectations for a team working to find its identity with a young team and new coach?

Improvement. 3-4 wins is what most people are saying. 5-6 is where I think SMU will ultimately end up, but until the North Texas game, SMU fans won’t really will be able to see how far the team has progressed in my mind. SMU will put up more of a fight against Baylor because they’re in better shape, have better schemes, coaches make adjustments, the list goes on. That’s not to say SMU will win, but they’re in better position to compete. This season, SMU fans want to see progress under Morris and there’s no doubt that’s what people will see. The recruiting woes of the past staff has definitely tempered any big expectations.

3. With the announcement of Matt Davis, as the starting QB, how will Coach Morris tailor his offense to Davis’ strengths and who are some offensive skill players Baylor fans should watch out for?

Morris’ offense is already tailored to Davis. Morris recruited Davis at Clemson and had a great relationship already with him when he arrived. Davis will utilize play-action and the up-tempo offense to try and put pressure on the Baylor defense. Davis will also have some designed runs, but the goal is certainly to have the running backs carry the load and not have Davis carry the ball too much. WR Courtland Sutton and TE Jeremiah Gaines have really impressed and are imposing players in their own right. Both are physically able to win balls and be successful. They’ll be primary targets for Davis and the staff is extremely excited about bringing them in to the offense and getting the ball in their hands. Running back is a little more of an unknown, but Xavier Jones and Braeden West both have great speed and should contribute right away as possible home run threats.

4. It would seem that depth is something that SMU will need to work on on both sides of the ball, particularly with the defense, what changes have been made with a new DC and what should Baylor fans expect from the Pony Defense?

They actually moved from a 3-4 to 4-2-5 under Van Malone and with the way recruiting has gone, the players actually fit the four-man front better. The defensive line is the position with the most depth and could be the strongest according to the staff. The secondary will be tested without a doubt, but the staff really believes their front six will be successful this year and they can plug players in there and rotate. Expect pressure to come from a few different positions as Malone and Morris are on the same page. They want the defense to be like the offense, fast and aggressive.

5. Many are expecting there to be several Baylor fans in attendance, and for the Bears to make an opening season statement. What are your thoughts on this game and how do you see this one playing out?

I expect Baylor to make a statement. With everything going on, I’m sure the team wants nothing more than to come out and just let a lot of frustration out. Briles and his staff have to manage any frustration and make sure it doesn’t become undisciplined like he’s talked about. Expect Ford Stadium to be packed and a better turnout from SMU fans than in the past in my mind because people are curious about what Morris will roll out there. That being said, I do think SMU will lose 48-17. Baylor has too much returning talent, but I do think the pedal will come off a little bit towards the end against Briles’ old high school football colleague Morris. Both teams will come out with a lot of energy, but it just won’t be enough. Baylor is where SMU wants to be, but even with all the progress made in the little things this summer, SMU has a long way to get there.


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