Southern Methodist Statistical Profile

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The schedule for the Bearcats is about to get cranked to 11, or whatever the American Athletic Conference equivalent of 11 is. That start with the SMU Mustangs visiting the cozy confines of Nippert Stadium for the first ever time.

Offense

Number Conference Rank National Rank
Rushing Yards Per Game 108.29 8 113
Rushing Yards Per Carry 3.89 8 91
Passing Yards Per Game 380.7 1 5
Passing Yards Per Attempt 6.9 6 77
Passer Rating 131.55 6 63
Yards Per Play 5.87 5 60

The first ever incarnation of the Run N' Raid offense is exactly what you would think an offense with June Jones and Hal Mumme at the helm would be. All passing, all the time. The Mustangs are currently passing on 67 per cent of their snaps, regardless of down.

On the one hand this is an offense that is obviously predicated on volume rather than efficiency. The ponies throw so often, and so indiscriminately that their efficiency numbers took a beating, and that was certainly the case during a brutal September that saw Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU on the schedule.

October lightened the load a bit, and the passing game has gotten more and more efficient behind the suddenly competent Garrett Gilbert. Accordingly the efficiency numbers for the passing game are trending resolutely upward. His receivers have come around after a collective rough start, and the Mustangs have four legitimate weapons on the outside. The improvement of the passing game has allowed SMU to find more room to run the football with Traylon Shead. Gilbert remains the biggest (literally) and best rushing threat for the Mustangs.

Defense

Number Conference Rank National Rank
Rushing Yards Per Game 158.77 8 60
Rushing Yards Per Attempt 3.92 7 51
Passing Yards Per Game 290.3 8 118
Passing Yards Per Attempt 8.0 8 100
Passer Rating 152.98 9 112
Yards Per Play 5.84 8 88

There is very little redeeming about this defense. The rushing defense is average, but only because opponents spend so much time bombing away on an awful secondary. There is no way to sugar coat what the Mustangs have in the back end, which is Kenneth Acker and a whole lot of inexperience and ineptitude.

The Mustangs have resorted to blitzing, en mass at any and all occasions because they have no hope of holding up by playing conventionally. I generally favor playing defense that way, in particular when you are depleted. This isn't soccer where an inferior team can pack the 18 yard box in the face of overwhelming opposition. SMU takes a ton of chances defensively, and when they work they can get a team way of schedule.

Disruptiveness

Opponents SMU
Tackles For Loss 41 58
Sacks 21 20
Hurries 17 11
Pressure Percent 10% 12%
Interceptions 6 3
Passes Defended 27 45
Defensed/Incompletion Ratio 37% 35%

Just look at those TFL numbers. On a per game basis SMU is 5th in the country in making plays behind the line. Four different Mustangs average a TFL or more per game, and three of the four are linebackers. These guys like to attack, and they have to. The problem is that their ability to cause havoc against the run doesn't translate to the pass rush. More often than not the Mustangs pass rush doesn't hit home, which puts their beleaguered secondary in bad spots.

Those defensive backs do a reasonable job in defense, as their passes defended show. But this isn't the kind of secondary that can be put on an island that often. But that is increasingly where they have found themselves, on islands. Islands that have been gleefully firebombed by quarterbacks ranging from P.J. Walker to Johnny Football.

Life On The Margins

Opponent SMU
Interceptions Thrown 3 6
Opposition Fumbles 18 11
Opposition Fumbles Recovered 11 4
Recovery Percent 61% 36%
Turnover Margin +10 -10
Blocked Kicks 1 2
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage 80% 56%
Non Offensive Touchdowns 6 1

Woof. Bottom line, its very difficult to win games with any consistency while surrendering touchdowns on 80 per cent of opponent red zone trips. 80 percent is obscene. Also obscene, but really just dreadfully unlucky is giving up 6 non offensive touchdowns. 6 such TD's would be bad for an entire season plus a bowl game, SMU has still only played 7 games. Its pretty safe to say that SMU is definitely not winning on the margins.

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