Southern Methodist Mustangs
Western Athletic Conference
2000 Record (3-9, 2-6 WAC)
Bowl Game - None
Coach - Mike Cavan
Key players returning - RB Kris Briggs, G James McCarthy, TE John Hampton, WR Johnnie Freeman (seven starters overall).
Key players lost - QB Josh McGown (tranferred), C Rich Nichols, RT Jeff Erxlben,
Strength - Solid runner in with Briggs, experienced WR corps, great pass catching TE in Hampton (had 46 receptions last season).
Weakness - Offensive line not deep or overly talented. Unsettled quarterback position.
Key players returning - DE Kevin Aldridge, DT Lute Croy, LB Vic Viloria (led WAC in tackles last season), CB Kevin Garrett (10 starters overall)
Key players lost - DE Chase Schavrda, second-team All-WAC
Strength - Experience. Lots of it on this defense. The linebackers and the defensive line each return six players with starting experience. In the secondary, there are nine players with starting experience.
Weakness - Some experts question the toughness of this group.
Lost starting punter Colin Vadheim. Jacob Crowley, the placekicker, hit only 10 of 21 last season and will be pushed for his job this season by incoming freshmen Chris McMurtray and Russ Davis.
Mustangs have two dangerous returnmen in Johnnie Freeman and Chris Cunningham.
The Mustangs should have a great defense based on the sheer numbers of players they return with starting experience. Having twenty players on a individual unit with starting experience must be some kind of record. Every unit is thick with experience and talent, and should be the best defense in the WAC.
Offensively, the Mustangs try and be balanced out of their one-back offense, and this is only their second year under this new system brought in by Southern Miss coach OC Larry Kueck. Kueck directed high-powered attacks at Southern Miss from 1997-99, and prior to that was the quarterback coach at Marshall, where he coached Chad Pennington the year the Thundering Herd won the I-AA National Championship. The 2001 offense should be more productive, provided they get solid play from their quarterback.
The knock on the Mike Cavan-led Mustangs is that they do not play with a lot of effort or toughness. If they overcome those labels, this group could contend for the WAC championship.