SMU went 5-7 in year one under Sonny Dykes, a solid start. Dykes was able to implement his scheme on offense, but the talent wasn’t quite there to meet the scheme and the offense was inconsistent.
The defense, led by former NIU DC Kevin Kane, was actually the superior unit, but as Dykes recruits more to his tastes I expect the offense to improve.
The offense goes under some serious changes in 2019, as two linemen, the top rusher, and the top passer are gone from last year’s group.
Xavier Jones, who rushed for 1,000 yards on 5.9 yards per carry in 2017, looks to be the projected starter at running back. His numbers took a hit to 326 and 4.5 last year but I expect a rebound. The QB will be Texas grad transfer Shane Buechele who racked up 19 starts and over 4,600 yards with the Longhorns over the past few years. I liked Buechele at Texas and he should shine in Dykes’ system.
The receiving corps returns almost everyone, including James Proche (1,199, 12.9) and Reggie Roberson (802, 15.4). Judah Bell, Tyler Page, and Myron Galliard provide some depth and they add a Notre Dame transfer in CJ Sanders.
As long as the line, which will start two sophomores, is solid, I’m expecting this offense to take a big step forward with Beuchele at the helm and one of the AAC’s most talented receiving groups.
I always feel like a Northern Illinois fanboy writing these previews, but the Huskies are an awesome MAC team that have produced some great players and coaches over the past decade, including Kevin Kane, a rising star in the coaching world that made the defense the star of the show on a Sonny Dykes coached team after leaving NIU for SMU.
Pretty much everyone is back from the great defense, most importantly leading tackler Richard Moore who also racked up five sacks and 8.5 TFL at mike linebacker. End Delontae Scott showed flashes (4.5 sacks, six TFL).
The secondary was probably the weakest unit last year but should be a little more experienced this year. The Mustangs also add a couple of JUCOs that could challenge for playing time like Sam Westfall. With nine starters back this defense could be even better again.
My computer expects a ten-spot jump for SMU this year to 82nd, but I think that’s a little conservative, I really like this team. They bring almost all the key pieces back and add a few interesting newcomers to freshen things up.
There are some tough games on the schedule like @ Memphis and @ Houston, but I think this team has a good shot at making a bowl.
|Date||Opponent||opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|31-Aug||at Arkansas State||76||-4.9|
Average Projected Record: 5.8 wins, 6.2 losses (4.0 wins, 4.0 losses)