SMU 2017 Football Preview

DFW_9392-1Head Coach Chad Morris is expected to produce in his third season.  His Mustangs showed improvement over his first two seasons, but now, with his first recruiting class entering their third season, expectations are no less than a bowl game.   For Morris and his team, though, the confidence runs even higher.  “This is a veteran football team,” Morris explains.  “It’s the third year in our system and our culture, and everything has been established.  We’ve got a lot of guys back that have played a lot of ball.  With the returning core that we have and guys like Courtland Sutton, Justin Lawler, and our backs, I definitely think that this team is trending in an upward position.”

The focus will be on quarterback, where freshman Ben Hicks was forced into action with the season-ending injury to Matt Davis in the opening game.  Hicks progressed throughout the season, but was pushed in the spring by junior transfer Rafe Peavey.

The receivers are the highlight of the team.  Led by All-American Cortland Sutton, with senior Shelby Walker and sophomore James Proche also available.

Sophomore running back Xavior Jones returns from injury to join Braeden West and Ke-Mon Freemon in the backfield.

The offensive line is anchored by senior center Evan Brown, joined in the middle by returning guards Nick Natour and Brayton Hyder.  The tackles will have to be manned by new players, whose success will be the key to the offensive production.

Defensively, SMU will need to get more stops, especially in the third quarter.   Defensive end Justin Lawler and nose tackle Mason Gentry are solid starters.   

The secondary was among the nation’s leaders with 18 interceptions in 2016, with returning starters Jordan Wyatt and Rodney Clemons providing leadership.

The real question mark for the defense comes in the linebacker unit.  SMU allowed over 200 yards rushing per game average and needs to improve stops on 3rd down.

The SMU offense will almost certainly improve on it’s almost 28 points per game.  If the defense can get just one more stop per game, the Mustangs could be looking at their first winning season since 2012.

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