The 2016 SMU Mustangs Season Preview

This season QB Matt Davis and the Mustangs are looking for vast improvements. Photo Courtesy: Matthew Lynch
This season QB Matt Davis and the Mustangs are looking for vast improvements.
Photo Courtesy: Matthew Lynch
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By Zach Walker

Chad Morris’ head coaching start might not have been an auspicious one, with a heavy non-conference schedule and an early loss to Jay Lee and the FCS James Madison Dukes, but there were positives a plenty throughout the 2015 season. The Mustangs were competitive in a hell of a lot games and took some teams for a pretty good ride. Doing the real cart pulling was an excellent group of freshmen on offense. The running back duo of Xavier Jones and Braeden West were much, much more effective than their statures would suggest. I don’t mean to be overly hyperbolic, but sophomore Courtland Sutton might be the most dangerous wide receiver in all of college football. He’s a five tool player. Throw any cliché his way to describe his play, it’ll work. If he continues to progress at the rate that he’ll likely exceed, he can very easily be the program’s 1st first round pick post ‘Death Penalty’ (which is to say 30 years). The triggerman stays the same, Matt Davis. Another offseason within Chad Morris’ offense, and in a projected quarterback NFL draft class, the senior could play his way into becoming an April draft pick. The offensive line is where these games are won, and they need to start winning more consistently. Three of the starters that I know of are upperclassmen, with Chauncey Briggs and Daniel McCarty being seniors. There are a lot of playmakers on offense, who will get shine time a points during this season. Xavier Castille, sophomore wide out has some of the best hands on the team, and Jeremiah Gaines, the H-Back/Tight End is a matchup nightmare for defenses. I eyed two freshmen at the spring game that have I’ve been waiting to see more from. The running back, Aphonso Thomas was a Nebraska commit, then chose SMU instead. The Van, Texas product was simply out to make plays during the spring game. Alex Honey, which has a sweet name, is a cast mold off of Courtland Sutton. At his own listed six foot four and 200 pounds, if he lines up across from Courtland Sutton with Castille and Shelby Walker in the slots, that’d be a pretty formidable formation.

On the defensive side of the ball, it’s another solid mix of under and upperclassmen. The defensive backs are a tested group. Horace Richardson, Darrion Millines, Deion Sanders Jr., and Jesse Montgomery are the upperclassmen, with William Jeanlys and Jordan Wyatt being the under. With the exception of Sanders, all of the defensive backs are six foot or taller. The linebackers are Nick Horton, Kyran Mitchell, and RC Cox are likely to play the majority, with Anthony Rhone and Zane Smith bringing in the rear. I am excited about the defensive line. Jarvis Pruitt, Justin Lawler, Zelt Minor, Mason Gentry, and Deon Green are an experienced, battle hardened group and a pretty damn solid rotation. However, it’s the addition of SMU’s sideline hype-up duo of Michael and Delontae Scott to that rotation that could set it over the edge.

I’d love to see SMU shut down teams, but the way that the Mustangs can put up points, really forces a team into “bombs away mode” and puts things into attack mode, but if that defensive line can get work done, it could be a really good season.

I won’t go into supreme detail into each game, but I’ll do some points about each matchup.

September 3rd – at UNT: With Graham Harrell as OC, QB transfer from Alabama Alec Morris could be a serious offensive power.

September 10th – at Baylor: What is this team going to look like post-Art Brilles? Can they get past the blemishes of horrific offseason and get back to football?

September 17th – vs Liberty: FCS teams have given SMU fits for the last few years, can they do what they are supposed to do, and beat the lower division team?

September 23rd – vs TCU: Can Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill mature? Is James McFarland going to come back stronger?

October 1st – at Temple: Combination of PJ Walker at QB and Jahad Thomas at RB are a top tandem in AAC. A top four team in the AAC.

October 7th – at Tulsa: Baylor-style, high-octane offense, with a high-risk/high-reward defense. Dane Evans to Keevan Lucas is dangerous pair.

October 22nd – vs Houston: Front runner program in AAC. Greg Ward Jr. – The second most dynamic QB in FBS, behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, the likely #1 overall pick in NFL Draft.

October 29th – at Tulane: The word is “NEW” with Tulane: New Head Coach, quarterback, and wide receiver.

November 5th – vs Memphis: Pick-up the pieces where Justin Fuente and Paxton Lynch left off. Receiving threats a plenty.

November 12th – at East Carolina: Isaiah Jones needs Phillip Nelson to progress quickly.

November 19th – vs USF: Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack lead an almost completely intact offense from 2015. Willie Taggert primed for a big year.

November 26th – vs Navy: Not as exciting of a matchup without the entertaining Keenan Reynolds, but the offense is a task and a half to slow down.