THE GOOD: The defensive line accounted for almost half (eight) of SMU’s 17 total sacks and really started to pressure opposing quarterbacks in the last couple of games. It was because of this pressure that SMU forced four interceptions over the last three games. Zach Wood (pictured above) led the line in tackles with 40, tackles for loss with six and sacks with four. Wood will be looked to next year to provide more of a pass rush off the edge for SMU in the 4-2-5.
THE BAD: The line only accounted for 13 of SMU’s 50 total tackles for loss. They were also terrible against the run and allowed opponents to rush for 235 yards a game. Run defense starts with the defensive line and without a solid front you’re going to get gashed.
THE GOOD: Five of SMU’s top ten tacklers this season were linebackers. Stephon Sanders was second on the team with 70, and John Bordano was seventh with 45. At one points, Kevin Pope made the switch back to defense. He didn’t get to play there for too long though because of injury- still he finished fifth on the team with 49 tackles.
THE BAD: SMU allowed 235 yards on the ground. Yes, part of that is the defensive line, but the linebackers are just as responsible. It was also disappointing that we didn’t see more from Caleb Tuiasosopo or Cameron Nwosu.
THE GOOD: Hayden Greenbauer and Darrion Richardson were SMU’s best all-around defenders. Greenbauer was SMU’s leading tackler with 79, while Richardson was third with 69. Each safety had an interception, and combined for three fumble recoveries. SMU’s DBs also combined for five of the Mustangs six total interceptions.
THE BAD: Greenbauer and Randolph were forced to make way too many plays. The two combined for only five tackles for a loss. That’s because they are safeties and most of the plays they will make are going to be down the field. SMU surrendered 263.7 passing yards a game and allowed 27 passing touchdowns this season.
THE GOOD: Jackson Koonce finally gave SMU an effective punting game. He wasn’t without his fair share of shanks, but more often than not he gave the questionable SMU defense a fighting chance by pining opponents deep. He averaged 40.8 yards a punt, had a long of 60, and had 14 land inside the 20- that’s four better than SMU had in 2013. Deion Sanders, Jr. was named first-team All-AAC and made some splash plays for SMU at times as a kickoff return man. While the team's return coverage struggled at times and SMU struggled with field position, Sanders, Jr. made a few nice plays to give some glimpse of a possible lethal return game with better coaching.
THE BAD: Considering Chase Hover went 18-21(85.7 percent) in field goal attempts in 2013, Cody Rademacher was mostly disappointing. He did have an improbable 49 yarder that he absolutely nailed. However, he finished 9-17 (52.9 percent)…you can’t have that from your place kicker.