Five bold predictions for SMU in 2012

SMU made the post-season for the third consecutive year and won its second bowl game under June Jones to finish 8-5 this year. Here are some bold predictions for the Mustangs in 2012.

A few predictions for next season:

1. Garrett Gilbert, who will enroll at SMU in graduate school this summer, will win the quarterback competition. Though he couldn't quite get the hang of the system at Texas, lest anyone forget Gilbert was a five-star recruit out of Lake Travis. He was Gatorade and Parade National Player of the Year and finished his high school career as Texas' all-time leader in passing yards (12,540) and ranks second in state history in passing touchdowns (138), completions (895) and attempts (1,368).

And if Gilbert becomes the starter, Kyle Padron could transfer, especially if he's granted two years of eligibility through a medical hardship. Talk about writing on the wall.

2. SMU's running game will be tops in Conference USA and respectable nationally. Though Zach Line had season-ending toe surgery after the Navy game, he was still able to finish as one of the Top 10 running backs in the country, rushing for a total of 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 122.4 yards per game.

It will be more of the same next year, his senior year, plus add in youngsters finding their groove in Rishaad Wimbley and a hopefully healthy Jared Williams, and the Run and Shoot has it's best running component since June Jones has been at SMU.

3. The offensive line will be the team's weakest link. With the most veteran line in the country graduating, SMU will have five "new" guys who must gel quickly over the spring and summer.

Bryan Collins will lead a young unit. Look for players like Taylor Lasecki and Kris Weeks to break out and be solid talent for the Mustangs in the future.

The youth might make things tougher on whoever is quarterback (for the purposes of this article, we'll say Gilbert).

4. With Houston's Patrick Edwards and Justin Johnson and also Cole Beasley graduating, Darius Johnson could be C-USA's best receiver. He finished fourth in the conference this season with 1,118 yards, averaging 86 ypg.

5. The Mustangs will continue to rise in their last season in C-USA. The defense could finally creep into the Top 20 (the Mustangs finished at No. 26 this year) as it returns four of their five top tacklers in linebackers Taylor Reed, Ja'Gared Davis and Cameron Rodgers and defensive back Ryan Smith.

They'll also have Margus Hunt and Torlan Pittman, not to mention rising sophomore Stephon Sanders, a player who coaches feel could be their next "big-time" player.

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