#92 SMU Football 2013 Preview

SMU Mustangs

Overall Rank: #92
#8 American

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As SMU heads to a new conference, they will have to do a bit of rebuilding from a team that finished the 2012 campaign very strong. After starting 1-3 in a tough non-conference slate, the Mustangs rebounded nicely in their farewell tour of Conference USA. The season ended with a quality 43-10 win over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.

2012 Record: (7-6, 5-3)
2012 Bowl: Hawaii Bowl vs. Fresno State (W 43-10)
Coach: June Jones (31-34 at SMU, 107-75 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Phillips
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Mason

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Garrett Gilbert, QB, 346 yards
Passing: Garrett Gilbert, QB, 2,932 yards
Receiving: Jeremy Johnson, WR, 679 yards
Tackles: Randall Joyner, LB, 93
Sacks: Four tied with 1.0
Interceptions: Kenneth Acker, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OT Ben Gottschalk, S Hayden Greenbauer, C Taylor Lasecki, CB Chris Parks, S Shakiel Randolph, LB Stephon Sanders, S Jay Scott, WR Der’rikk Thompson

Key Losses: OT Bryan Collins, LB Ja’Gared Davis, G Jordan Free, DE Kevin Grenier, DE Margus Hunt, WR Darius Johnson, RB Zach Line, DT Torlan Pittman, LB Taylor Reed

The move to the American Athletic Conference is going to help SMU in the long run, but this year may be a bit disheartening. The offense will look much different without running back Zach Line, who rushed for 1,278 yards and 13 scores on 277 attempts. But Coach June Jones knows how to run an offense and now it will run through quarterback Garrett Gilbert. The 6-4 senior threw for 2,932 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, he also threw 15 interceptions and that number will need to go down. Jeremy Johnson is the top returning receiver, catching 67 passes for 679 yards and three touchdowns. Der’rikk Thompson is another experienced wideout and should emerge as the big play receiver for the Mustangs. The offensive line is extremely young and senior left tackle Ben Gottschalk will be asked to do a lot of work to keep Gilbert on his feet and this was a pretty good line a year ago that struggled in that department.

The SMU rush defense allowed under 118 yards per game and that is why the Mustangs were so successful in 2012. But now Coach Jones will need to find some new playmakers up front. The defensive line that was so huge in 2012 now looks pretty small, although that happens when 6-8 Margus Hunt heads off to the NFL. SMU also lost Torlan Pittman, Kevin Grenier and Spike Davis, along with linebackers Ja’Gared Davis and Taylor Reed. Hunt, Reed and Davis alone accounted for 19.5 sacks on the season and now sophomores Andy McCleneghen and Zach Wood are the likely starters at the end spots and will need to find a way to get into the backfield. Darrian Wright, at 6-2 and 280 pounds, will man the middle of the Mustangs 3-4 defense. The secondary returns safeties Hayden Greenbauer and Jay Scott and corners Chris Parks and Kenneth Acker. Ajee Montes is a promising redshirt freshman who could find some time at corner as well. But even with the experience in the secondary, this was a team that allowed way too many yards through the air. And that was with a consistent pass rush. They might get torched even more without Hunt, Reed and Davis getting into the backfield.

The Bottom Line:
Replacing Line at running back may be the most interesting aspect of this SMU squad. After Line and the scrambles and sacks of Gilbert, the next leading rusher on the team was Luke Seeker. He carried the ball just 12 times. Rishaad Wimbley rushed for 27 yards on ten carries. There are workhorses out there, but for a single back to have that many carries compared to the rest of his team is rare. It worked great last season, but now SMU has virtually no experience. Wimbley will probably get the early starts, but one way to replace Line is by utilizing his brother, 6-0, 233 pound redshirt freshman Prescott Line.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 132.00 (93rd in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 235.31 (62, 6)
Total Offense: 367.31 (90, 9)
Scoring Offense: 30.54 (53, 7)
Rushing Defense: 117.92 (15, 1)
Pass Defense: 278.15 (109, 11)
Total Defense: 396.08 (62, 4)
Scoring Defense: 25.69 (54, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.08 (10, 1)
Sacks: 1.85 (70, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.62 (97, 10)


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