Coach: Chad Morris (0-0, entering first season)
2014 record: 1-11, 1-7 in American Athletic Conference; 11th place in American
Look back: SMU’s 2014 season can be described in one word — disaster.
As if cycling through four quarterbacks wasn’t enough of a challenge, the Mustangs were forced to change head coaches during the season after the departure of veteran coach June Jones.
The cloud of uncertainty hovering over the team translated into one of the least productive seasons in recent history for the Mustangs.
Tom Mason, then defensive coordinator, took over as interim head coach before the administration hired Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris last December to lead the program.
Despite a dismal season, SMU finished the season on a positive note, beating UConn 27-20 in East Hartford.
Offensive starters returning: 8
Offensive starters lost: 3
Defensive starters returning: 7
Defensive starters lost: 4
Key losses: DB Hayden Greenbauer, LB Stephon Sanders, QB Neal Burcham, WR Der’rikk Thompson, WR Stephen Nelson
Top returnees: QB Matt Davis, WR Darius Joseph, RB Prescott Line, OL Evan Brown, OL Daniel McCarty, DL Darrian Wright
Strengths: The defensive line was expected to be SMU’s jewel last season, but it never quite materialized. Still, this group only loses one productive lineman and returns the rest of a group headlined by senior Zack Wood. The Mustangs switched defensive schemes, moving to a 4-2-5, but the experience of the line should help ease the transition.
SMU could have a much improved secondary, with most of the group returning with the exception of leading tackler Hayden Greenbauer.
Weaknesses: Quarterbacks were SMU’s Achilles heel last season. The Mustangs ranked last among FBS schools in passing yards per completion and next to last in first downs. There’s no clear indication the offense will drastically improve this season. Matt Davis was the final quarterback to lead the offense last season, but he still needs to work on improving his passing. True freshman Ben Hicks will challenge Davis for the starting job.
Outlook: Major advancement rarely happens during the course of one season under a new head coach, so expect SMU to have some difficulty as the team works to improve. Expect Morris to run the ball a lot more than Jones did in his offensive system, with the new coach favoring the use of two running backs.
Sept. 4 Baylor
Sept. 12 North Texas
Sept. 19 at TCU
Sept. 26 James Madison
Oct. 3 East Carolina
Oct. 8 at Houston
Oct. 24 at USF
Oct. 31 Tulsa
Nov. 6 Temple
Nov. 14 at Navy
Nov. 21 Tulane
Nov. 28 at Memphis
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com