Mustangs ready to stampede into 2012 season

SMU experienced a tumultuous offseason but now has the pieces in place to make yet another bowl appearance

Here We Go.

About seven months ago, the SMU football team was putting the finishing touches on a sound beating of Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. A game that was controlled by SMU from the very beginning, it was clear the Mustangs would come out the victors early on. Since that game ended, it seems like nothing has been quite clear on the Hilltop.

An offseason marked with crazy twists and turns kept Mustang fans on the edge of their seats throughout, starting with the head man. Head coach June Jones initially decided to leave SMU, and take control of the Arizona State football team. However, due to ASU boosters rejecting the hiring of Jones, the man who has completely turned the SMU program around will in fact return.

More changes continued as assistant coach and recruiting ace Adrian Klemm decided to leave Dallas for Los Angeles and join the newly hired Jim Mora at UCLA. Unfortunately, due to the June Jones fiasco paired with Klemm bolting for Los Angeles, a few verbally committed SMU recruits decided to take their talents elsewhere.

However, not all was bad on the Hilltop this offseason. Jones was able to real in a different type of "recruit" in former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who decided to transfer from the Longhorn program this spring.

Gilbert, a top recruit coming out of high school, is expected to not only compete for the starting job but win the battle and lead SMU into one last year as a member of Conference USA. Another high profile transfer followed Gilbert. Stavion Lowe, an offensive lineman from LSU, is expected to start right away.

Although the SMU football program endured many ups and downs this offseason, and will be heading into fall without former AD Steve Orsini, who was let go a short while ago, the Mustangs still have high hopes for the upcoming season.

A quick look at the 2012 football schedule may cause many to doubt SMU reaching eight, nine, even ten wins, but a deeper look into their opponents could cause a shift in opinions.

Without a doubt, the first four games of the season will have the most impact on the SMU season. With games against Baylor, Texas A&M, and TCU, the Mustangs have a great opportunity to pull off some impressive wins against highly ranked opponents.

Baylor, A&M and TCU all have gone through just as much or more offseason changes than SMU. Baylor loses Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III, along with a few of his top playmakers.

A&M too underwent incredible changes, as they fired Coach Mike Sherman, and like Baylor, lost their top quarterback, running back and wide receiver to graduation or the NFL draft. TCU is no different, as they lost heaps of talent to the draft-especially of defense- along with a few key players, who arrested in a drug bust.

Each of these teams has massive holes to fill at key positions, which provides SMU with a great opportunity to capitalize on the turnover commencing throughout each program. These three games provide SMU with an enormous opportunity send shock waves throughout the college football landscape and prove that SMU football is ready to return to prominence.

SMU endured but survived many changes this offseason, and is poised for a big season if it can be successful early on in the season and dominate Conference USA. With a new quarterback and inexperienced offensive line, it won't be easy but it is possible if Jones and his staff can get this team to live up to their potential.

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