CoogFans' Opponent Preview - SMU

Not only did the Mustangs reach their first bowl game in 25 years in Coach Jones' second year at the helm, but they beat Nevada on a national stage by a score of 45-10 in the Hawaii Bowl despite being heavy underdogs. Another bowl game is the goal, but competing for a Conference USA championship is certainly a possibility.

SMU Mustangs
Conference USA

2009 Record: (8-5, 6-2)
2009 Bowl: Hawaii Bowl vs Nevada (W 45-10)
Coach: June Jones (9-16 at SMU, 84-57 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: June Jones
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Mason

Returning Leaders
Rushing: Zach Line, RB, 189 yards
Passing: Kyle Padron, QB, 1,922 yards
Receiving: Aldrick Robinson, WR, 800 yards
Tackles: Chris Banjo, S, 86
Sacks: Taylor Thompson, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Robert Mojica, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: OT Kelvin Beachum, WR Cole Beasley, OT J.T. Brooks, LB Ja'Red Davis, LB Pete Fleps, DE Marquis Frazier, CB Sterling Moore, G Josh LeRibeus, G Bryce Tennison, WR Terrance Wilkerson, LB Youri Yenga
Key Losses: S Rock Dennis, C Mitch Enright, LB Chase Kennemer, CB Bryan McCann, RB Shawnbrey McNeal, QB Bo Levi Mitchell, WR Emmanuel Sanders

It did not take Coach June Jones long to turn SMU back into a contender. Not only did the Mustangs reach their first bowl game in 25 years in Coach Jones' second year at the helm, but they beat Nevada on a national stage by a score of 45-10 in the Hawaii Bowl despite being heavy underdogs. Another bowl game is the goal, but competing for a Conference USA championship is certainly a possibility.

Strengths:
Kyle Pardon has quickly gone from a green true freshman to the face of the program. Last year he completed 67.2 percent of his passes and threw for ten touchdowns and just four interceptions. While Pardon has all the tools to succeed for the next three years in the run and shoot offense it is important to note that he only has six starts under his belt. Bo Levi Mitchell, who has left the program, started a majority of the games, but it became clear that Pardon is the future and the present. Without wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders the passing attack may suffer slightly, but Aldrick Robinson, Terrance Wilkerson, Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson are ready to pick up the slack. Robinson is one of the best receivers in the conference and Wilkerson and Beasley have plenty of experience. The wildcard is Johnson who SMU hopes will develop into the next Sanders and Robinson. And with arguably the best tackle duo in the conference in J.T. Brooks and Kelvin Beachum, there is no reason to believe that the passing game will not be even better this season.

Weaknesses:
The loss of running back Shawnbrey McNeal may hurt a little more than one would think from a run and shoot team that does not run the ball too often. McNeal had a great senior season and now the job will fall to speedy freshman Darryl Fields and sophomore Zach Line. Those two will have to get a little movement on the ground or the entire offense will become predictable. The defense was pretty good last year, but in C-USA it is all about stopping the pass and SMU has to replace a couple players in the secondary. Sterling Moore is an experienced corner, but who starts on the other side could become a concern. Junior college transfer Richard Crawford could turn into a good corner and J.R. McConico has some starting experience, but replacing Bryan McCann will not be easy. Nor will it be easy to replace strong safety Rock Dennis.

The Bottom Line:
If the secondary needs time to adjust, it will put a lot of pressure on the front seven. This is not a group that did particularly well against the run last year and now they have to do without leading tackler Chase Kennemer. The four linebackers are still a very talented unit with Youri Yenga, Pete Fleps, Ja'Gared Davis and Taylor Reed leading the way. The line returns ends Marquis Frazier and Taylor Thompson, both of whom are capable of putting pressure on the opposing quarterback, but they need to do it more consistently. The big issue on the line is at nose tackle where the Mustangs will have to insert a youngster and hope he can help stuff the run and get some pressure on the quarterback to help out the secondary in the pass happy Conference USA.

A2009 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 109.77 (103rd in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 282.00 (15, 2)
Total Offense: 391.77 (51, 6)
Scoring Offense: 29.23 (45, 5)
Rushing Defense: 166.69 (88, 7)
Pass Defense: 230.38 (79, 3)
Total Defense: 397.08 (84, 5)
Scoring Defense: 27.62 (80, 6)
Turnover Margin: .15 (51, 6)
Sacks: 1.77 (74, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.77 (102, 11)


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