2013 SMU football's 10 things to know: Old coaches, bright futures, and the Raid 'n' Shoot

Cooper Neill

This feels like a transition year for SMU, with major turnover on the offensive line and defensive front seven and a quarterback who still doesn't quite seem to match the scheme. For now just let's just enjoy the June Jones-Hal Mumme partnership and look for fireworks in 2014.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. You're welcome, SMU

Fresno State by 27. On paper, this game has the highest Steiner-vs-Holyfield potential of any bowl. I like June Jones, and I want this to be a game. But I don't see it. Prove me wrong, 'Stangs.

We're all wrong a lot. It's part of the fun of following sports: Every time you think you absolutely know what's going to happen, you get pantsed by an unfathomable (to you) outcome. It's especially true in football, with a pointy ball and 22 other moving parts on any given play. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I am rarely as wrong as I was in previewing last year's Hawaii Bowl, a game I said SMU would lose by 27 and a game the Mustangs won by 33. I'm not sure I wouldn't have still picked Fresno in a best-of-five series -- with a second chance, perhaps the Bulldogs would figure out a better plan for handling defensive end Margus Huntwho had a stupid, ridiculous day, and wouldn't fall into a deep deficit early in the proceedings -- but football isn't best-of-five, and I was off by almost nine touchdowns. It was a good time.

In this sense, you're welcome, SMU, because I'm doubting you again in 2013. I like the talent in the pipeline, and despite the fact that June Jones just turned 60, I like the way this team could take shape in the future. But the receiving corps isn't good enough to do what it needs to do, the offensive line is now incredibly young, and the defensive front seven has to replace quite a few of the reasons for SMU's recent defensive success. This feels like a team in transition, one that could struggle to reach bowl eligibility before starting a decent run in 2014 or 2015.

That's an amazing thing to say, by the way. Jones seems to have hit a temporary ceiling around the seven- to eight-win mark and F/+ rankings in the 60s, but before he engineered a four-year streak of bowl bids, SMU had gone 25 years without a bowl, first stuck in NCAA purgatory, then struggling to rebuild. Program commitment was tenuous, and the Mustangs simply didn't make the right hires, either because they just swung and missed or because the right hires weren't willing to come to Dallas. Jones, on the other hand, was absolutely the right hire. SMU's won 30 games in four years (after winning 31 in the previous 10), has moved into a still-new stadium (Gerald J. Ford Stadium), and has succeeded just enough to pull off an upgrade form Conference USA to the AAC. (Yes, that's an upgrade, even if it isn't an amazing one.)

So yeah, things are looking good for the Mustangs heading into the future, at least compared to where things were five years ago. But that doesn't mean prospects for 2013 are very bright. Again, you're welcome.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 7-6 | Adj. Record: 6-7 | Final F/+ Rk: 70
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
2-Sep at Baylor 24-59 L 24.6 - 38.3 L
8-Sep Stephen F. Austin 52-0 W 18.5 - 28.0 L
15-Sep Texas A&M 3-48 L 16.8 - 24.7 L
29-Sep TCU 16-24 L 15.1 - 4.0 W
6-Oct at UTEP 17-0 W 18.8 - 16.0 W
13-Oct at Tulane 26-27 L 24.9 - 43.4 L
18-Oct Houston 72-42 W 31.3 - 26.8 W
27-Oct Memphis 44-13 W 41.4 - 16.2 W
3-Nov at Central Florida 17-42 L 25.3 - 38.3 L
10-Nov Southern Miss 34-6 W 28.4 - 12.7 W
17-Nov at Rice 14-36 L 24.7 - 29.1 L
24-Nov Tulsa 35-27 W 27.8 - 29.1 L
24-Dec vs. Fresno State 43-10 W 35.9 - 18.0 W
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 30.5 53 25.7 54
Adj. Points Per Game 25.6 87 25.0 37

2. The Mustangs were certainly better at the end, though

For the 2012 season as a whole, SMU was obviously rather mediocre. The defense held steady with above-average output (55th in Def. F/+ after ranking 41st in 2010 and 57th in 2011), but the offense fell apart, plummeting from average (61st in Off. F/+ in 2011) to bad (96th). But for all the naysaying I might want to do, SMU was certainly an above-average team over the last half of the season.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 6 games sans TCU): Opponent 30.1, SMU 20.7 (minus-9.4)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 7 games): SMU 30.7, Opponent 24.3 (plus-6.4)

The offense improved by 10 adjusted points, and the defense improved by nearly six. Granted, much of the offensive surge took place in two games (Memphis and Fresno State), and granted, players no longer in uniform were responsible for a lot of the strong performances in those games -- running back Zach Line rushed for 127 yards and receiver Darius Johnson caught nine passes for 141 yards against Memphis, while Johnson and Austin Fuller caught seven passes for 124 yards versus Fresno State -- but quarterback Garrett Gilbert looked great in those games (sacks aside). So there's that.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 92 93 79 104
RUSHING 95 68 73 66
PASSING 63 106 73 118
Standard Downs 103 87 110
Passing Downs 74 68 79
Redzone 92 101 83
Q1 Rk 105 1st Down Rk 93
Q2 Rk 95 2nd Down Rk 90
Q3 Rk 51 3rd Down Rk 69
Q4 Rk 76

3. Interlude

June Jones thrilled the Internet nerds by bringing in Air Raid architect Hal Mumme as his new offensive coordinator. Hopefully that means, if nothing else, more interviews like this one.

BF: Hal's know as an Air Raid guy and June, you're known as a Run-and-Shoot guy. What are the biggest variations ...

JJ: I think I climbed the coaching ladder quickly because I was willing to do it. I think (Mumme) got the coaching job at Kentucky because he had some balls. Nobody was doing it and he's winning. All of a sudden you have these places that had never won and were looking for something different. They'd say, "We can't win the old-fashioned way." So I'm watching the variations of it and every coach has their own little something they put on. The correlation is you live by the pass and you get the run because you throw. Everybody else wants to run and get the pass because they run. With Hal, Mike (Leach) and I the big similarity is the philosophy, "Throw the football to get the run."

If you talk to the defense coaches who played us, they're starting to figure that out. Zach Line almost broke Eric Dickerson's rushing records over here. Then they said, "Damn, we gotta stop that running back."

HM: If you take the playbooks and lay them down, you'd see there's a lot more similarities than differences. I say this all the time in clinics, "Air Raid is an attitude, not a playbook."

BF: Well, you didn't have a playbook technically.

HM: Right, I've gone from having no playbook to the New York City phonebook over here. We have one now.

JJ: But we don't give it to the players.

HM: There really are a lot more similarities than differences. He ran Y-Sail. We ran Y-Sail. He ran Verticals. We ran Verticals.

JJ: The concept of reading the coverage, nobody did it. Even when I was a player in 1977, and every Monday they'd say look at the next team and tell us what you think will work. Well, I'd write a book on reading and how to read the routes and all that stuff. But nobody in the NFL back then allowed their receivers to read coverage. If you're running a curl, you're running a curl. That was it. There was no conversion.

Our belief is, give the kids as much as you can and give them a basis for why to do a certain thing and then let them make decisions on the run. I think that concept from what Hal did is what Mouse (Davis) did and what I've copied. Let the kids have freedom to do what the best thing to get open is, and that gets back to what (Mumme) said about the Air Raid. It's an attitude, a belief system. And once you get the belief in the kids, you win.

That was a hefty portion, but the Q&A is enormous. And totally worth it. Read it all.

4. What will this marriage mean?

In terms of the product on the field, it probably doesn't mean much. The air raid is an efficiency attack, content with forcing the defense to give up something, then taking whatever it gives. The run and shoot might have a bit more vertical capability, but not really. If there's a difference, add a few percentage points of completion percentage, subtract a little bit of yards per completion, and watch the average stay about the same. Regardless, SMU will pass. A lot. Just like it did last year.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Garrett Gilbert 6'4, 223 Sr. ***** (6.1) 268 506 2,932 53.0% 15 15 33 6.1% 5.1
Conner Preston 6'0, 193 So. *** (5.5) 5 10 127 50.0% 1 0 1 9.1% 11.0
Neal Burcham 6'3, 207 RSFr. *** (5.5)






Kolney Cassel 6'2, 205 Fr. *** (5.6)






5. Can SMU actually pass, though?

Fair question. Zach Line was in no way explosive, but he was incredibly consistent (despite seemingly countless knee injuries) and always moving forward. SMU's Stuff Rate (the rate of negative runs) was wonderfully low, and while the SMU's line's other run stats were also pretty good, I give Line a lot of credit for the lack of stuffs. Without both Line and three starters on the line (accounting for 74 career starts), the run game is starting over. Two redshirt freshmen battled for the starting job at right tackle in the spring, and only one senior finished the spring on the two-deep. That's young.

Still, even last year, with a decent run and awful pass, SMU was pass-first. That's just the way it's going to be. Is there any hope for improvement in that regard?

Honestly, it's hard to know what to make of Garrett Gilbert at this point. He's a pretty mobile guy who (like a lot of mobile QBs) takes a few too many sacks. But while he does throw some balls away, there's just no excuse for completing 53 percent of your passes but only averaging 10.9 yards per completion. Three of Gilbert's four primary wideouts had catch rates of 51 percent or lower, which is just too damn low for an efficiency offense. Granted, there is a lot of new blood in the mix this year, from three-star freshmen to, evidently, part-timer Kenneth Acker (also the starting cornerback), who might not actually be a part-timer. And maybe that makes a big difference.

But even at Texas, Gilbert was not a high-efficiency quarterback. He has upside (nowhere near five stars, obviously, but that's in the past), but he doesn't necessarily appear to be a great efficiency guy. The candidates to take over in 2014 are interesting (and probably more system-appropriate), but we'll save that discussion for 2014.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Zach Line RB 277 1,278 4.6 3.8 13 -10.9
Garrett Gilbert QB 6'4, 223 Sr. ***** (6.1) 61 521 8.5 7.0 8 +20.1
Luke Seeker RB 5'11, 186 So. NR 12 60 5.0 2.0 0 -0.4
Rishaad Wimbley RB 6'0, 260 Jr. *** (5.5) 10 27 2.7 0.8 1 -1.5
Prescot Line RB 6'0, 233 RSFr. *** (5.5)




Collin LaGasse RB 5'11, 197 RSFr. *** (5.5)




Traylon Shead RB 6'2, 230 Jr. *** (5.7)





6. No pressure, Traylon

Traylon Shead scored more touchdowns than anybody in Texas high school history and gained fewer yards than just one person. A small-school legend, he committed to Texas very early on in the recruiting process (five and a half years ago, actually), couldn't crack the depth chart and eventually ended up at Navarro College. He rushed for 1,200 yards in 2012, then signed with SMU. It's looking more and more like he'll be in the starting 'Stang backfield alongside another former Longhorn, Gilbert. Word is that SMU fans' expectations are sky high for the 230-pounder.

And that's good because there are no other obvious candidates for serious playing time. Shead will carry as much of the load he can handle, and he'll do so behind a green line, complemented by an inefficient passing game. Good luck, Traylon.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Darius Johnson WR-H 125 64 787 51.2% 6.3 25.6% 58.4% 6.3 80.3
Jeremy Johnson WR-Y 6'0, 179 Sr. *** (5.6) 105 67 679 63.8% 6.5 21.5% 61.0% 6.5 69.3
Der'rikk Thompson WR-X 5'11, 190 Jr. *** (5.5) 81 41 535 50.6% 6.6 16.6% 65.4% 6.5 54.6
Keenan Holman WR-Z 6'1, 185 Sr. ** (5.4) 49 25 311 51.0% 6.3 10.0% 57.1% 6.4 31.7
Zach Line RB 49 33 229 67.3% 4.7 10.0% 73.5% 5.0 23.4
Austin Fuller WR-Z 27 15 162 55.6% 6.0 5.5% 66.7% 6.0 16.5
Gehrig Dieter WR 18 9 153 50.0% 8.5 3.7% 66.7% 8.7 15.6
Darius Joseph WR-H 6'0, 195 So. *** (5.5) 13 7 70 53.8% 5.4 2.7% 53.8% 5.3 7.1
Kenneth Acker WR-Y 6'0, 195 Sr. *** (5.6)








Stephen Nelson WR-X 6'0, 185 Jr. NR








Arrius Holleman WR-Z 6'3, 220 So. *** (5.5)








Daljuan Stewart WR 5'10, 165 RSFr. *** (5.5)








JaBryce Taylor WR 6'2, 205 Fr. *** (5.6)








Jeremiah Gaines WR 6'2, 235 Fr. *** (5.6)








Everett Dickerson WR 6'0, 205 Fr. *** (5.5)








Nate Halverson WR-Z 5'11, 178 Fr. ** (5.4)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 106.0 3.12 3.57 42.9% 66.7% 16.7% 90.6 5.9% 6.9%
Rank 43 36 28 23 62 27 74 85 70
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Bryan Collins RT 22 career starts; 2012 2nd All-CUSA
Blake McJunkin RG 39 career starts
Jordan Free LG 13 career starts
Taylor Lasecki C 6'3, 296 So. *** (5.5) 13 career starts
Ben Gottschalk LT 6'5, 293 Sr. *** (5.6) 12 career starts
Kris Weeks RG 6'5, 310 So. *** (5.5) 1 career start
Ashton Duhe LG 1 career start
Sam Rice LG 6'4, 287 So. ** (5.3)
Ben Hughes C 6'4, 291 Jr. ** (5.4)
Christian Miller RG 6'4, 275 Jr. ** (5.2)
Seaver Myers RT 6'6, 290 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Chase Walling RT 6'6, 286 RSFr. ** (5.4)
Chauncey Briggs LT 6'5, 295 RSFr. ** (5.4)
Christian Chamagua LG 6'6, 295 RSFr. ** (5.3)

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 63 33 21 43
RUSHING 15 9 4 23
PASSING 112 56 69 51
Standard Downs 22 15 27
Passing Downs 50 48 50
Redzone 88 35 115
Q1 Rk 19 1st Down Rk 33
Q2 Rk 48 2nd Down Rk 54
Q3 Rk 72 3rd Down Rk 67
Q4 Rk 69

7. False impressions

The odds are decent that, if you saw one SMU game in 2012, it was the Hawaii Bowl. That game showed us not only a competent offense with a nice, mobile quarterback; it also showed us what appeared to be one of the best pass rushes and, consequently, pass defenses in the country. Margus Hunt had one of the best games you'll ever see from a defensive end, logging three tackles for loss, two sacks, three hurries, and two forced fumbles and playing a key role in a goal line stand late in the first half. He absolutely destroyed Fresno State's freshman right tackle, repeatedly. He and the SMU defense also gave a completely false impression.

It's not that the Mustangs didn't have a good defense; they were in fact one of the better units in Conference USA. It's that SMU spent most of the year dominating against the run and showing a few glitches against the pass. SMU ranked just 87th in Adj. Sack Rate but 18th in Adj. Line Yards, 56th in Passing S&P+ but ninth in Rushing S&P+. Opponents threw more than 50 percent of the time on standard downs, partially because that's what Conference USA teams tended to do, and partially because there was no point in trying to run on the Mustangs. Though iffy in short-yardage situations, the SMU 3-4 defense was incredibly stout, preventing run opportunities with swarming linebacker play and playing some of the most efficient ground-based defense in the country. And against teams not named Fresno State, Hunt had only 8.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, and no forced fumbles. He was good, but he wasn't that good. (You know this, of course, because if he were always that good, he'd have been the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.)

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 112.9 2.46 2.69 33.6% 75.0% 18.8% 84.0 4.2% 4.5%
Rank 18 11 21 13 106 72 87 74 98
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Torlan Pittman NT 13 27.5 3.8% 2.5 0 0 1 0 1
Aaron Davis NT 13 26.5 3.7% 3.5 0.5 0 1 0 1
Margus Hunt DE 13 25.0 3.5% 11.5 8 1 2 2 0
Kevin Grenier DE 13 20.0 2.8% 4.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Beau Barnes DE 6'5, 241 Jr. NR 11 12.5 1.7% 2 1 0 0 0 0
Darrian Wright NT 6'2, 280 Jr. *** (5.5) 13 9.0 1.3% 0.5 0 1 0 0 0
Zach Wood DE 6'3, 258 So. *** (5.5) 9 7.0 1.0% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Gareth Riley-Ayers DT 5'11, 276 So. NR 6 4.0 0.6% 1 1 0 0 0 0
Spencer Conley DE 6'4, 257 So. NR 5 2.5 0.3% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Andy McCleneghen DE 6'6, 262 So. NR 10 1.5 0.2% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jarrett Spencer DE 6'4, 255 So. ** (5.4)
Elie Nabushosi DE 6'4, 262 RSFr. ** (5.4)
Nick Reed NT 6'1, 296 RSFr. ** (5.3)
Zelt Minor DE 6'3, 275 Fr. *** (5.6)






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Taylor Reed MIKE 13 79.5 11.1% 14.5 6.5 3 2 1 2
Randall Joyner BUCK 5'10, 236 Sr. ** (5.2) 13 72.5 10.1% 3 0 3 5 2 2
Ja'Gared Davis WILL 13 63.5 8.9% 11 4 2 5 3 2
Stephon Sanders SAM 6'3, 250 Jr. *** (5.6) 13 39.0 5.4% 5.5 1 1 5 0 0
Cody Worthen SAM 13 21.5 3.0% 1 0 0 0 2 0
Kevin Pope MIKE 5'10, 225 Sr. ** (5.4) 13 15.0 2.1% 0 0 0 0 1 3
Cameron Rogers LB 8 13.5 1.9% 1 0 1 0 2 0
Jonathan Yenga MIKE 6'2, 215 So. *** (5.6) 13 8.0 1.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Henderson BUCK 6'2, 233 Sr. ** (5.3) 13 3.5 0.5% 2 1 0 0 0 0
Robert Seals WILL 6'3, 225 So. ** (5.4) 8 2.5 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
John Bordano LB 6'2, 235 Jr. *** (5.5) 4 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Derek Longoria SAM 6'2, 230 So. *** (5.5) 8 1.0 0.1% 0.5 0 0 0 0 1
Lincoln Richard LB 6'3, 225 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Jarvis Pruitt WILL 6'3, 252 RSFr. ** (5.4)






8. Some terrifying turnover

SMU attacked you from all angles from its 3-4 structure. In all, eight Mustangs recorded at least 2.5 tackles for loss and three recorded at least 11. The problem for 2013: All three members of the 11 Club are gone, and only two of the eight 2.5'ers return. The line had incredible production for a three-man, occupy-your-blockers front, but almost all of that production is out the door, as are a pair of stellar play-makers at linebacker, Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis.

The linebacking corps still has a good amount of potential; Stephon Sanders is exciting, and players like Jonathan Yenga and Lincoln Richard were pretty highly touted (relatively speaking) in high school. But almost all of the proven disruptors up front are gone, and that has to be scary. Even if the offense improves a bit, will it be enough to offset defensive regression?

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jay Scott SS 6'1, 210 Sr. *** (5.5) 13 62.5 8.7% 2 0 1 10 1 1
Kenneth Acker CB 6'0, 195 Sr. *** (5.6) 13 45.5 6.3% 2 0 3 12 0 0
Chris Parks CB 6'1, 190 Sr. ** (5.4) 13 43.5 6.1% 0.5 0 0 7 0 0
Hayden Greenbauer FS 6'0, 205 Jr. *** (5.5) 13 22.0 3.1% 0.5 0 1 2 2 0
Shakiel Randolph SS 6'5, 201 So. *** (5.6) 8 14.5 2.0% 0 0 0 4 0 2
Ryan Smith DB 4 14.0 2.0% 0 0 2 2 1 0
Keith Robinson CB 13 12.5 1.7% 0 0 0 4 0 0
Brett Haness DB 8 11.0 1.5% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Jeremy Gray CB 5'11, 195 Sr. NR 13 9.5 1.3% 0 0 1 1 1 0
Blake Poston CB 5'9, 180 So. NR 9 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Daniel Roundtree FS 6'2, 195 Sr. *** (5.5) 6 1.0 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
J.R. Richardson CB 5'9, 182 So. *** (5.5)




A.J. Justice DB 6'2, 202 RSFr. *** (5.5)

Horace Richardson CB 6'0, 190 RSFr. *** (5.5)


Ajee Montes CB 5'11, 187 RSFr. ** (5.2)

Cedric Lancaster DB 5'8, 165 Fr. *** (5.5)
Ty Law CB 5'10, 180 Fr. *** (5.5)



9. The secondary should be great, but does that matter?

The secondary can only thrive if the front seven isn't a complete sieve, but if SMU can get things patched up near the line of scrimmage, the Mustangs' defensive backs can take it from there. Assuming he isn't exhausted from playing both ways, Kenneth Acker is part of one of the better corner combos around; Acker and Christ Parks, both seniors, combined for 22 passes defensed in 2012, and safety Jay Scott (also a senior) threw in 11 more. In safeties Hayden Greenbauer and big Shakiel Randolph, SMU has lovely potential in a nickel look. Throw in any number of three-star freshmen and redshirt freshmen, and you've got one of the best secondaries in the AAC. They did a lot without the help of a pass rush last year (and then did even more when the pass rush arrived), but that only helps if the opponent has to pass.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Mike Loftus 6'1, 200 Jr. 52 41.9 2 11 12 44.2%
Chase Hover 6'2, 185 Sr. 18 39.4 1 3 2 27.8%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Mike Loftus 6'1, 200 Jr. 77 62.8 29 37.7%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Chase Hover 6'2, 185 Sr. 47-49 15-19 78.9% 3-10 30.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Der'rikk Thompson KR 5'11, 190 Jr. 16 25.7 0
Cole Loftin KR 8 23.8 0
Blake Poston PR 5'9, 180 So. 7 4.9 0
Kenneth Acker PR 6'0, 195 Sr. 6 14.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 39
Net Punting 80
Net Kickoffs 39
Touchback Pct 53
Field Goal Pct 100
Kick Returns Avg 40
Punt Returns Avg 47

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Texas Tech 42
7-Sep Montana State NR
21-Sep at Texas A&M 15
28-Sep at TCU 11
5-Oct Rutgers 48
19-Oct at Memphis 116
26-Oct Temple 64
9-Nov at Cincinnati 26
16-Nov Connecticut 53
23-Nov at South Florida 67
29-Nov at Houston 58
7-Dec Central Florida 55
Five-Year F/+ Rk 75
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 71
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +14 / +5.7
TO Luck/Game +3.2
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 12 (6, 6)
Yds/Pt Margin** -3.4

10. Short-term vs. long-term

Again, I do like what June Jones is building in Dallas. The secondary is incredibly experienced but potentially has more young talent than any other unit. The front seven is going to take some hits this year but will be wonderfully experienced in 2014 and 2015. The same goes for the offensive line. And while I'm still not sure there are answers in the receiving corps, Traylon Shead is only a junior, and a more system-specific quarterback will take the reins next year. This could be a strong AAC squad in 2014, and really, it should still expect to rank between about 65th and 75th in 2013, too. The problem is that 75th would only make SMU better than two teams on its schedule (Montana State and Memphis).

The Mustangs could fall victim to the fact that there is a glut of AAC teams likely to finish between 50th and 60th; to get ahead of that glut, not only does the offense need to improve, but the defense needs to avoid solid regression. The difference between about third and eighth in the AAC will be minimal this year, and unfortunately, SMU has more question marks than most of the other teams in the race. Home games versus Texas Tech, Rutgers, Temple, UConn, and UCF are all winnable, but the Mustangs won't win them all. A 6-6 record is conceivable, but I'm feeling more comfortable predicting about five this year.

So to prove me wrong, June Jones will win 10.

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