SMU Mustangs at North Texas Mean Green: Season Opener Preview

The new regime at SMU plans on starting off with a victory today. Photo Courtesy: Michael Carnes

By Zach Walker

It’s that time of year again, when records start to get tallied and hot winds of summer get swept away by that magical Texas autumn breeze. Meaningful football time. For the SMU Mustangs, there’s been a shakeup. Gone to Arkansas is Chad Morris, who left the program in position to win a bowl game that could have been considered a home bowl game. That win was massively dodged by Sonny Dykes in his first coaching action for the Mustangs, being boat-raced 51-10 by Louisiana Tech. Getting out of the starting gate strong. No, that’s having shoe laces tied to ear lobes levels of poor starts.

The Mustangs aren’t without optimism, however. Far from it actually. They still have a very strong quarterback within Ben Hicks, entering his redshirt junior season. Ever present is Xavier Jones, Braeden West, Ke’Mon Freeman in the backfield to keep things on the ground. Although replacing Courtland Sutton isn’t an easy feat, they have Alex Honey, a seemingly carbon copy of the second round pick to be that mismatch on the outside, and set to dominate the intermediate zones of the field is James Proche, who has some of the strongest hands coupled to some of the most breathtaking body contortion ability I’ve ever seen on a football field. Chad Pursley leads a pretty new group of offensive linemen into battle, and as for every new season it’ll take a few games for the unit to fully mesh and gel. I’m particularly looking forward to Bryce Wilds from Brazosport High School.

The defense is actually something to look forward to. Just as last season was the quest to see how high the Mustangs could push Courtland Sutton’s draft stock, the goal is now to see how high Jordan Wyatt can get his hype. Not difficult, because when Wyatt is on the field, it’s a huge positive for the Mustangs and almost always going to be a win for the Mustangs in that matchup. Kevin Johnson across from Wyatt and the hammer Mikial Onu coming down from the safety position. The Linebackers are another seasoned group. Kyran Mitchell and William Jeanlys are the veterans, and Kyran is a terrific pass rusher. The front for the Mustangs is new, minus Delontae Scott leading the ends.

What will it take for the Mustangs to win in Denton?
It’s actually quite interesting how close the two head coaches are from this game. Coaching at two different colleges over a four year stretch. The Mean Green return Mason Fine for a second season in Denton, and that’s how the Mean Green under Graham Harrell’s offensive direction is going to try and throw points on to the board. The edge goes to the continuity of the SMU offense versus the Mean Green defense, and what Ben Hicks can doctor up. I won’t bet against the SMU defense in this game either, with Jordan Wyatt coming back from injury and likely wanting to show out in the opener.

Prediction
SMU 38 – UNT 24