Five Questions: SMU

Pony Stampede's Andrew Hattersley caught up with us about the upcoming matchup between ECU and SMU. Here are five questions that stood out to us.

IES: From what we've seen, SMU's 1-3 record doesn't really do it justice considering who the Mustangs have played and how they've played. Can this team make some serious noise going into conference play with that experience?

Andrew Hattersley: SMU has impressed early on in the season with their performances against Baylor and TCU. They should sneak up on a couple of teams during conference play however there is some concern about how their defense is going to fare. SMU is coming off a rough defensive performance against ECU, in which they gave up 729 yards including 440 yards on the ground. SMU will probably catch a couple of teams by surprise this season because on offense they can go up and down the field but they will probably still end up being a four or five win team.

IES: Matt Davis seems to be breaking on to the scene with his play so far. What has made him so effective this year, and against top competition nonetheless?

AH: Matt Davis has been by far the most improved player on the team this year. His ability to throw the ball deep but keep defenses honest has been his biggest asset. Davis is the top priority against any team that plays SMU, however he still manages to keep teams off balance because there is always that threat that he can run. Another key to Davis's big season so far has been his ability to make good decisions for the most part. The one negative Davis has had has been putting the ball on the ground a little too much however he has protected the ball well outside of this. Davis has improved a lot but he also has more weapons around him to help him succeed. Coming out of the backfield, Davis has been able to check the ball off to his two freshman studs Xavier Jones and Braeden West. On the outside, whenever Davis is in trouble, he knows he can throw it up to Courtland Sutton and know he is big enough to come down with the ball.

IES: Obviously there are some big changes this year in coaching and schemes but what seems to stand out as the biggest change that Chad Morris has brought with him this season?

AH: SMU might not win every game this season, but every team they play is going to come out of the game saying they got a tough fight from SMU. This is the polar opposite of last year when SMU would collapse in the second or third quarter when they were down by as little as two touchdowns. This year, SMU has already squashed that reputation by coming coming back in each of their four games this season, including impressive come from behind performances against North Texas and TCU. The other noticeable difference will be this is a much more aggressive team that is not going to be afraid of taking their shots down field, especially to their big time wide receiver Courtland Sutton.

IES: A lot of talk about SMU is centered around their offense, but what is the team capable of defensively?

AH: SMU is a very opportunistic defense, as they've forced 12 turnovers already this season, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to be a respectable defense heading into conference play. Two habitual problems have haunted SMU in their tackling, as well as, their run defense. The Mustangs are coming off a performance they'd like to forget in which they gave up 440 yards to Vad Lee and James Madison. There were a multitude of problems in this game, with the primary problems falling in the secondary and with their linebackers. In SMU's one win this season, they tackled great but aside from that have just been terrible stopping the run. If they have the weapons to do so, ECU will definitely look to attack this portion of the SMU defense before they attack a secondary that has not been much better than the linebackers.

IES: What are the expectations from both within the program this year, and from the fans, in terms of how this team should do in conference play?

AH: Fans are realistic that you have to be patient this season. The talent is there, however, the Mustangs are trying to be careful that they are not burning a ton of redshirts just to be able to compete this season. Most SMU fans are expecting between 4 and 5 wins but are a little less confident about that coming off last weekend. Coming off a one-win season, SMU is already thrilled they have been able to compete with Baylor and TCU. This fact alone has given SMU fans a lot of hope for the future.

Inside ECU Sports Top Stories