CoogFans' Opponent Preview - SMU

The 2009 season has to be better than 2008 especially since this was a team full of freshmen. Coach Jones knows what he is doing, but it will simply take time to get players into his offense that can run the show as well as players like Colt Brennan did at Hawaii.

Southern Methodist Mustangs
Conference USA

2008 Record: (1-11, 0-8)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: June Jones (1-11 at Southern Methodist, 77-51 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Morrison
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Mason

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Chris Butler, RB, 174 yards
Passing: Bo Levi Mitchell, QB, 2,865 yards
Receiving: Aldrick Robinson, WR, 1,047 yards
Tackles: Pete Fleps, LB, 106
Sacks: Youri Yenga, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Bryan McCann, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: S Chris Banjo, OT Kelvin Beachum, WR Cole Beasley, CB Derrius Bell, S Rock Dennis, C Blake McJunkin, WR Emmanuel Sanders, LB Justin Smart, G Bryce Tennison, DE Taylor Thompson, WR Terrance Wilkerson
Key Losses: LB Will Bonilla, OT Vincent Chase, DT Serge Elizee, DT Patrick Handy, G Sean Lobo, RB Andrew McKinney, K/P Thomas Morstead

Coach June Jones left sunny Hawaii for SMU and his first year did not go too well. The Mustangs managed to win just one game and that was against lowly Texas State. Even Coach Jones' offensive prowess could not turn the unit into anything special and the defense was even worse. It will take time and this year will be better than last and next year will be better than this one.

Strengths:
Despite the unproductive offense, SMU still managed to rank 17th in the nation in pass offense. Bo Levi Mitchell was not always the most consistent quarterback, as his 23 interceptions will show, but he showed plenty of promise that he can be the guy who can make the run and shoot offense work. Having receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson should help make things a little easier. Robinson caught 59 passes for 1,047 yards and is the quarterback's main deep threat. When Robinson is not open, Sanders will be. He caught 67 passes for 958 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. The problem with the offense is the running game. The Mustangs ranked dead last in the country rushing with an amazingly bad 41.42 yards per game. And now their top rusher is gone. SMU will not want to run too much, but junior Chris Butler and sophomore Bryce Lunday better take advantage of the opportunities that they do have.

Weaknesses:
The good news is that the defense returns eight starters. That is where the good news ends for the SMU defense. The team gave up nearly 479.5 yards and 38.2 points per game, ranking last in the conference in both categories. The best thing the defense did was get to the quarterback. It is not like they tallied a lot of sacks, but now three key pieces of the line are gone and the Mustangs have to retool. This is still a relatively young group and they can only get better. End Youri Yenga is probably the best player on defense and it will be up to him to get into the backfield and disrupt the opposing offense as much as possible. If Yenga can force the opposition to hurry, the rest of the defense will be much better. Linebackers Pete Fleps and Justin Smart have potential and the secondary could be pretty good, led by corners Darius Bell and Bryan McCann and safeties Chris Banjo and Rock Dennis.

The Bottom Line: The 2009 season has to be better than 2008 especially since this was a team full of freshmen. Coach Jones knows what he is doing, but it will simply take time to get players into his offense that can run the show as well as players like Colt Brennan did at Hawaii. That will come with time, but just like the teams at Hawaii, the difference between a decent year and a great year will be the development of the defense. And it is on that side of the ball where SMU has to improve if they want to win more than one game this year.

2008 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 41.42 (119th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 272.92 (17, 5)
Total Offense: 314.33 (98, 11)
Scoring Offense: 21.33 (93, 9)
Rushing Defense: 225.58 (116, 12)
Pass Defense: 253.92 (101, 9)
Total Defense: 479.50 (118, 12)
Scoring Defense: 38.17 (115, 12)
Turnover Margin: -1.08 (113, 12)
Sacks: 1.50 (89, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 2.25 (88, 9)


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