College Football Preview: The 2014 Southern Methodist Mustangs
Southern Methodist needs more consistent play every Saturday to become a Bowl team.
2014 College Football Preview
June Jones looks for consistency from his 2014 Southen Methodist Mustangs and a return to the postseason.
Overview: The Mustangs are always a team that is difficult to nail down which means they can never be counted out and you can never have 100% faith in them. SMU went 2-3 in one score games a season ago and with a little improvement on both sides of the ball a 5-7 record could have been reversed. Do we see a bounce back in 2014?
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Offense: QB Garrett Gilbert had a huge senior season with over 3,500 yards with 21 TD's and seven picks on 66.5% which leaves backup Neal Burcham and his 109 passes as the lone experienced signal caller. The favorite to take the job but his challengers are each three star recruits so we'll see. Two 1,000+ yard receivers in Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman are gone which leaves Darius Joseph (103-808) and Der'rikk Thompson (32-459) as the top options so help is needed in this area. Prescott Line (90-332) and KC Nlemchi (51-238) are the leading rushers back but as we can see SMU neither ran the ball much or effectively. Three starters up front return but the unit is thin in the depth department.
Defense: The defense took a big step in the wrong direction a season ago with opponents having good success on the ground. However if experience correlates to improvement the defensive line is loaded with everybody back with DE Beau Barnes logging 13 TFL and five sacks. The Mustangs are set at linebacker with Kevin Pope, Jonathan Yenga and Stephon Sanders combining for 35 TFL and 13 sacks. The secondary has some experience but loses their top three tacklers as well as five interceptions so we will see if the guys that received playing time in 2013 can assume a larger role or pass defense will be a concern.
Special Teams: P Mike Loftus averaged 40 yards per boot but nearly 80% were returned while dependable PK Chase Hoover graduated. Deon Sanders Jr. is back to handle kick and punt return duties.
Outlook: The defense, especially the front seven should be better but I will take a wait and see approach with the offense. The Mustangs are right on the edge of going to the postseason or staying home and like I said earlier, it's hard to nail this team down.