Football Schedule First Look; Southern Methodist Mustangs

Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

The Bearcats kick off November with a visit from the Texas contingent.

The Basics

Name Southern Methodist University
Location University Park, TX
Head Coach June Jones
Career Record 107-75
2012 Record 7-6

2012 In Four Sentences Or less

No team on the Bearcats 2013 had a more eventful year than the SMU Mustangs. The season opener saw Nick Florence and Baylor pick up at the same level that RGIII left off, the third game saw the launching point of the Johnny Football. They lost the Iron Skillet with an utterly incompetent offensive performance against TCU, and three weeks later produced one of the box scores of the year, beating Houston 72-42 despite being out gained by 200 yards. SMU made the Hawaii Bowl where they obliterated a rudder and coach less Fresno State team.

Who Is Coming Back?

Not Margus Hunt, thankfully. Garrett Gilbert will run the show under center for SMU. He had an up and down year in his first year in Dallas. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards and ran for another 350, but his completion percentage was 53 per cent and he had just as many INT's as TD's and his 105 QB rating would have been last in the Big East among regular starters (yes even lower than Mucnhie's). They return 5 of their top 8 from their receiver rotation a year ago, but they will not be returning their top receiver a year ago in targets, catches, yards and TD's; Darius Johnson. Also gone is Mike Allstot impersonator/running back Zach Line who generated 74 per cent of the Mustangs rushing offense behind a senior led offensive line. The leading returning rusher is Gilbert, but that won't actually matter that much (more on that in a minute). The line returns 7 of the top 10, though it is losing three multi year senior starters. The best of the bunch up front is probably Taylor Lasecki a center, one of just five sophomores named to the Rimmington watch list.

SMU had an effective defense last year, but they are starting over again this season. The 3-4 base will be the same, but the faces will be really different. Not only do they lose Hunt, but four of their top 6 defensive linemen from a year ago have moved on. The top returning linemen are Beau Barnes, Spencer Conley and Gareth Riley-Ayers who between them tallied 4.5 TFL's, and 2 sacks in 22 games of action. The Linebackers will actually be in much better shape than the DL. 5 of the top 8 are back. Randal Joyner and Stephon Sanders will lead the linebackers, Joyner is the headliner. The secondary returns everyone from the Hawaii Bowl depth chart, so Deion Sanders Jr. and his luxurious sheets will probably be red shirting.

What Will They Run?

Its that good stuff, the Air Raid. Hal Mumme is back in Division 1 after being relegated to Division III/II McMurray for a couple of seasons after failing at New Mexico State like so many before him. That is why the loss of Zach Line isn't as acute as it would have been had June Jones kept the offense in place. There is voluminous material on the Air Raid, but I would start with this. Presumably you bring in Hal Mumme to play the hits.

The defense will be the same 3-4 that they ran a year ago. It is nominally a 3-4, but they use a lot of different looks both in the front and the secondary. They show quite a lot of 4 man fronts for a 3-4 team, particularly against three or more wide receiver sets, but they will also go the other route and play 2 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers at times. They almost always send four rushers, but they will occasionally go to three men in obvious passing situations. This video from the Hawaii Bowl shows some of that variation in fronts. In the back end it is predominately zone coverage, with a pretty good mix of cover 2, and 3 and all their iterations.

Can You Wrap This Up? I Have Things To Do

June Jones has resurrected the Football program from a long slide in the wake of the death penalty. They have slowly but surely rebuilt the program back to respectability. SMU has had four straight winning seasons, something that hasn't been done since the early 80's. Now the Mustangs step into another conference, and a different set of challenges. SMU has the resources to be a long term success in the AAC, and they have more tradition than anyone in the conference, even if some of it is bad. I don't know that they have the pieces in place to be immediately successful like Central Florida. More than likely there will be an adjustment period.

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