Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Year Zero in the books
When a program is wooing you for its head coaching job, a bottoming-out season can almost become attractive.
Former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who had allegedly spurned advances from a few schools through the years, finally made the jump to head coach. He chose an SMU program that struggled for most of its post-death penalty period, managed a few years of consistency under June Jones, then completely fell apart.
Morris likely saw a program with an infinite recruiting base, a location friendly to his style of spread offense (i.e. a place in Texas), and a chance to get closer to home -- the Texas A&M grad was head coach in five different locations within the state before joining Todd Graham's Tulsa staff in 2010, then Dabo Swinney's Clemson staff in 2011.
He also probably saw the freedom to do whatever the heck he wanted to do with the program out of the gates.
As happened at UCF with George O'Leary in 2015, SMU swiftly collapsed in 2014 under June Jones. One day, you wake up and you've lost your edge like a set of keys. After averaging seven wins per season from 2009-13 -- miraculous consistency from a program that didn't win seven games between 1985 and 2008 -- Jones and SMU plummeted to 1-11. It was so obvious Jones was done that he didn't beat around the bush: He resigned just two games (losses to Baylor and North Texas by a combined 88-6) into the season.
When the program's caretaker stops taking care of the program, things can fall apart in a heartbeat. But Morris took on a job that allowed him even more freedom than he might have gotten under normal circumstances. He had guys change position. He ran some off. Others left of their own volition.
He also engineered some improvement. The win total rose only from one to two, but the Mustangs jumped from 124th in overall S&P+ to 104th; the defense was absolutely dreadful, but a young offense made up the difference. SMU scored at least 21 points in nine games and at least 37 in four. That those four games resulted in a 1-3 record tells you all you need to know about the state of the program. But it's conceivable that the nightmarish 2014 season actually allowed Morris to build SMU in his image a little more quickly than it otherwise might have happened.
So now what? Reason for optimism remains ... on one side of the ball. The offense returns quarterback Matt Davis, the top two running backs, the top eight pass targets (five WRs, a tight end, and two RBs), and the offensive line returns seven players who started at least one game last year. All good things! Meanwhile, the defensive line is rebuilding, and it's not evident that there's enough talent in the back seven to assure defensive improvement. (Better injuries luck would probably help.)
SMU could become a slightly better, more extreme version of what we saw in 2015.
Morris signed a deep 2016 recruiting class with quite a bit of upside in the trenches and appears to be quickly fleshing out the depth chart. In a conference quickly becoming known for hiring offensive dynamos -- Tom Herman at Houston, Willie Fritz at Tulane, Phillip Montgomery at Tulsa, and now Mike Norvell at Memphis, Scott Frost at UCF, and Scottie Montgomery at ECU -- much is expected of Morris, the man who helped to transform Clemson into a national power. But with 2014 still pretty close in the rear view, he'll probably be given some more patience before results are expected.
|Record: 2-10 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 106 | Final S&P+ Rk: 104|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|24-Oct||at South Florida||44||14-38||L||20%||0%||-7.1||-12.5|
|Points Per Game||27.8||73||45.7||127|
2. Diminishing returns
That SMU began the season averaging 34 points per game while losing three of four was remarkable. Despite a slight Week 1 injury, Matt Davis was leading a solid-looking offense, but the defense was getting torched in an almost inconceivable way. Baylor and TCU combined for 112 points, each averaging more than 10 yards per play; James Madison, led by now-Texas State coach Everett Withers, averaged 8.6. Even by the standards of your run-of-the-mill awful defense, those are staggering numbers.
The good news is that the defense stabilized, at least for a little while. But the offensive output diminished at the same time.
- First 4 games:
Average percentile performance: 34% (~top 85) | Yards per play: Opp 8.3, SMU 5.9 | Average score: Opp 43.3, SMU 33.5
- Last 8 games:
Average percentile performance: 29% (~top 90) | Yards per play: Opp 6.4, SMU 5.0 | Average score: Opp 46.9, SMU 24.9
We can only take "the defense stabilized" so far when the Mustangs allowed at least 55 points in three of their last four games of the year. But it does appear that offensive failure had something to do with those numbers. SMU had little to offer against the Navy and Memphis defenses (combined: 14 points, 2.9 yards per play, and a minus-5 turnover margin), and its own D had no chance. Combined with injuries and constant defensive shuffling, the defense had less than no chance.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||39.9%||89||Succ. Rt. +||96.5||85|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||34.0||123||Def. FP+||32.3||113|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.7||47||Redzone S&P+||111.3||31|
|Q1 Rk||79||1st Down Rk||107|
|Q2 Rk||80||2nd Down Rk||95|
|Q3 Rk||94||3rd Down Rk||82|
3. Improvement with youth
It can sometimes be instructive to look at how an offense took shape when it was at its best; that gives you a pretty clear glimpse at the vision of the offense, what it's supposed to do. For the season, SMU's offense spread opponents out and forced solo tackles, operated at a higher-than-average pace (but probably not as fast a pace as you think), ran the ball at a decent clip and passed pretty poorly.
In its three best games, however, the run was better than decent. Against TCU, James Madison and Tulane (the three games in which the Mustangs averaged more than 6 yards per play), the run not only dominated but set up deeper passing.
In these three games, Matt Davis rushed 42 times (not including sacks) for 359 yards and five touchdowns. Running backs Braeden West and Xavier Jones, both freshmen, carried 69 times for 363 yards (5.3 per carry) and caught 17 passes for 138 yards (8.1 per catch). Meanwhile, the receivers got open deep. Courtland Sutton, also a freshman, caught 14 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Then-sophomore Ryheem Malone and Kevin Thomas combined for 10 catches and 175 yards. Shelby Walker had two for 50. Davis took some sacks in the process, but the combination of efficienct running and big-play passing was enticing.
In theory, we should see more and more of that in the future. Davis is a senior, as is occasional big-play tight end Jeremiah Gaines. But Jones, West, Sutton, Thomas, and slot receiver Xavier Castille (five catches for 44 yards in these three games, 23 for 254 overall) are all sophomores, Malone and Walker juniors. For that matter, only two of the seven returning linemen with starting experience are seniors.
With this amount of youth, it makes sense that the glimpses of offensive brilliance were fleeting last year. But they did exist.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Matt Davis||6'0, 211||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9452||183||336||2263||16||7||54.5%||39||10.4%||5.3|
|Darrel Colbert, Jr.||5'11, 214||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8242||15||21||203||1||0||71.4%||3||12.5%||7.7|
|Ben Hicks||6'1, 214||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8560|
4. Davis' final act
Matt Davis took over the SMU offense late in 2014 and showed flashes of the kind of excitement you expect from a Morris quarterback. He completed 68 percent of his passes against Tulsa and USF, and he rushed for 372 yards against Tulsa and UConn. He came out of the gates rushing for 240 yards against Baylor and North Texas, and through six games his passer rating was 144.4. That would have ranked a decent 34th in the country over a full season.
The output diminished drastically down the stretch, however. While the run game had its moments against Temple and Tulane, Davis' passer rating over the final six games was a dismal 97.1, which would have ranked well outside of the top 100.
On paper, Davis seems perfect for what Morris wants to do with the football. He is a wonderful run threat with the capability of completing over 60 percent of his passes with few picks. He's always going to be the type who takes a few too many sacks in the name of looking for plays to make, but you can live with that if he is otherwise efficient.
That SMU is 3-21 since Davis became eligible probably isn't what the former four-star Texas A&M signee had in mind. But in his senior season, he'll at least have a supporting cast that is infinitely more experienced. Jones and West probably won't fumble as much (their 10 combined fumbles were crippling), Sutton could be ready for a star turn, and efficiency options like Malone, Castille, and the running backs should be able to deliver a bit more in the shorter passing game.
|Xavier Jones||RB||5'10, 195||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8026||151||632||10||4.2||4.4||34.4%||5||2|
|Matt Davis||QB||6'0, 211||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.9452||148||1038||10||7.0||7.2||51.4%||11||7|
|Braeden West||RB||5'10, 166||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7793||62||326||2||5.3||5.3||37.1%||5||3|
|Darrel Colbert, Jr.||QB||5'11, 214||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8242||27||83||0||3.1||2.1||33.3%||1||1|
|Jordan Carmouche||RB||6'0, 216||Fr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8650|
|Aphonso Thomas||RB||6'0, 195||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8438|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Courtland Sutton||WR||6'4, 224||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8326||90||50||899||55.6%||26.0%||10.0||50.0%||46.7%||2.08|
|Xavier Castille||WR||5'11, 204||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8322||41||23||254||56.1%||11.8%||6.2||56.1%||39.0%||1.46|
|Jeremiah Gaines||TE||6'2, 255||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8610||38||16||249||42.1%||11.0%||6.6||47.4%||34.2%||1.85|
|Ryheem Malone||WR||5'9, 181||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7611||36||23||258||63.9%||10.4%||7.2||58.3%||44.4%||1.45|
|Xavier Jones||RB||5'10, 195||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8026||35||29||246||82.9%||10.1%||7.0||62.9%||45.7%||1.31|
|Kevin Thomas||WR||6'2, 187||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8545||29||14||194||48.3%||8.4%||6.7||62.1%||34.5%||2.07|
|Shelby Walker||WR||6'0, 160||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8277||20||11||170||55.0%||5.8%||8.5||45.0%||50.0%||1.55|
|Braeden West||RB||5'10,1 66||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7793||19||13||142||68.4%||5.5%||7.5||47.4%||36.8%||1.93|
|James Proche||WR||5'11, 185||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8672|
|Hunter Herndon||TE||6'4, 236||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8333|
|Alex Honey||WR||6'4, 198||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7941|
|Brandon Benson||WR||6'1, 186||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8440|
|Ryan Becker||TE||6'5, 230||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8445|
|Corey Rau||TE||6'4, 248||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8149|
|Joshua Shelmire||WR||6'2, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.9724|
5. Rapid turnover
Heading into 2015, SMU returned its two leading rushers (Prescott Line and K.C. Niemchi), who had combined for 125 carries and 26 receptions in 2014. Meanwhile, the four leading returning wideouts were Darius Joseph, Deion Sanders Jr., Nate Halverson, and Cedric Lancaster. They had combined for 106 catches.
In 2015, Line and Niemchi carried the ball 60 times and caught six passes. Sanders and Lancaster moved to defense, and Joseph and Halverson caught a combined eight passes.
Morris moved his own guys in at a startling pace -- again, something you get away with more easily when the season before you arrived was so dismal. That the offensive averages improved with freshmen leading the way at both running back and wideout was all sorts of encouraging and probably helped to alleviate what could have been serious chemistry issues.
The skill position corps was so young in 2015 that it will still be young in 2016, especially if players like freshman running back Jordan Carmouche and redshirt freshman receivers and spring game stars James Proche and Alex Honey are able to make an early mark. The upside here is obvious, but the quickness with which the younger players are able to reach some level of maturity and consistency will likely determine the team's ceiling for 2016.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Chauncey Briggs||LT||6'6, 298||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7951||4||23|
|Evan Brown||RG||6'3, 307||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8111||12||22|
|Daniel McCarty||LG||6'3, 277||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8032||1||10|
|Chad Pursley||LT||6'4, 280||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7948||9||9|
|Braylon Hyder||LG||6'2, 327||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8191||6||6|
|Nick Natour||LG||6'4, 285||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7533||3||3|
|William Barns||LG||6'2, 285||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7948||1||2|
|Travis Fister||C||6'2, 264||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8124||0||0|
|Bryce Wilds||OL||6'7, 307||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8026|
|Marcus McNeil||OL||6'3, 315||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7995|
|Jacob Todora||OL||6'4, 260||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8351|
|Braxton Webb||OL||6'5, 274||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8234|
|Kadarius Smith||OL||6'3, 275||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8198|
|Harrison Barton||OL||6'3, 275||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7955|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||49.1%||124||Succ. Rt. +||86.7||116|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||28.5||102||Off. FP+||30.2||58|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||5.3||126||Redzone S&P+||82.8||124|
|Q1 Rk||102||1st Down Rk||116|
|Q2 Rk||125||2nd Down Rk||128|
|Q3 Rk||118||3rd Down Rk||108|
6. Opponents chose to run (but could do whatever they wanted)
SMU allowed 81 gains of 20-plus yards in 2015, 121st in the country. The Mustangs also allowed a success rate of 49.1 percent, 124th. Believe it or not, a bend-and-break defense doesn't tend to work very well.
Former Oklahoma State defensive backs coach Van Malone found very little to work with from week to week in his first year as defensive coordinator. (He and Morris connected during Morris' one year at Tulsa.) Plus, he had to deal with having a different lineup just about every week. Of his top eight linemen, only three played in all 12 games. It was the same story at linebacker (three of eight), and it was even worse at defensive back (two of nine).
When you've got minimal proven talent to begin with, and what you've got can't stay on the field, you're going to probably stink on defense. And stink, SMU did. The pass defense had efficient moments but gave up a ton of big plays, and the run defense was an outright sieve, one of the four worst in the country according to S&P+.
Between the wretchedness of the run defense and the fact that opponents usually had the lead (and were potentially milking clock to keep SMU's offense off of the field), opponents ran a lot on SMU. A LOT.
At first glance, it might be the same case in 2016. For starters, the offense should improve again, increasing opponent desire to keep it off of the field. Beyond that, though, the Mustangs must replace three of their top four linemen, including active tackle Zach Wood, one of the few true play-makers.
It helps that a lot of guys got experience last year, and between a lot of redshirt freshmen, true freshmen, and JUCO tackle JT Williams, it's possible that depth and athleticism will improve. But you never want to count on youth for improvement. You end up disappointed a lot.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Justin Lawler||DE||6'4, 257||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7901||12||53.5||8.3%||9.0||5.0||0||1||1||0|
|Jarvis Pruitt||DE||6'3, 253||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7959||11||17.5||2.7%||4.5||2.0||0||0||0||0|
|Mason Gentry||NT||6'6, 305||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8256||12||16.5||2.6%||2.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Deon Green||DT||6'4, 293||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8418||10||16.0||2.5%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Zelt Minor||NT||6'2, 285||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8387||9||7.5||1.2%||2.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Keyfer Roberts||DT||6'2, 282||So.||NR||NR||9||3.0||0.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Michael Scott||DE||6'4, 248||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8381|
|Chris Biggurs||DT||6'3, 268||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8217|
|Hunter Thedford||DE||6'7, 239||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7979|
|Delontae Scott||DE||6'5, 244||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7893|
|JT Williams||DT||6'1, 295||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7885|
|Michael Badejo||DE||6'2, 220||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8472|
|Ken McLaurin||DT||6'2, 260||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8244|
|Demerick Gary||DE||6'3, 245||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8222|
|Patrick Jones||DT||6'3, 270||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7945|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Kyran Mitchell||STAR||6'0, 200||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7483||8||34.0||5.3%||4.5||0.0||1||0||0||0|
|Jackson Mitchell||WILL||6'0, 223||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7644||12||32.0||5.0%||4.0||0.0||0||0||2||0|
|RC Cox||STAR||6'1, 217||Jr.||NR||NR||10||27.5||4.3%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Anthony Rhone||MIKE||6'0, 235||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7859||10||24.0||3.7%||0.0||0.0||1||0||0||0|
|Carlos Carroll||STAR||6'3, 230||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8219||12||13.5||2.1%||1.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt McNew||MIKE||6'3, 222||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7533||8||9.5||1.5%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Nick Horton||MIKE||6'2, 243||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7693||12||4.0||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Mitchell Kaufman||LB||6'3, 223||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7826|
|Jordon Williams||LB||6'1, 208||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7926|
|Noah Spears||LB||6'2, 200||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8178|
|Myles Duke||LB||6'1, 185||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7971|
7. A new lineup every week
One of my mantras in these previews is that injuries hurt in the present tense and help in the future tense. We could certainly see that with the SMU defense. The line indeed returns five players who recorded at least 7.5 tackles, and the linebacking corps returns six who recorded at least 9.5.
Kyran Mitchell was turning into a strong freshman play-maker before missing the last month of the season, Jackson Mitchell made some plays against the run, and others like Carlos Carroll at least hinted at some play-making potential. Malone has some experienced options, and though the LB unit doesn't feature quite as many impact newcomers as the line, it also doesn't need as many.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Darrion Richardson||FS||6'0, 202||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8079||10||50.0||7.8%||2||0||1||4||1||0|
|Jordan Wyatt||SS||6'0, 190||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7885||11||27.5||4.3%||1||0||2||2||1||0|
|Horace Richardson||CB||6'0, 195||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.7900||7||20.0||3.1%||0||0||2||3||0||0|
|William Jeanlys||CB||6'2, 188||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7933||11||14.0||2.2%||0||0||0||5||1||0|
|Jesse Montgomery||CB||6'1, 180||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7600||8||9.0||1.4%||0||0||1||1||0||0|
|Cedric Lancaster||CB||5'10, 171||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8094||4||3.0||0.5%||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Kevin Johnson||DB||5'10, 168||So.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||4||2.0||0.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Deion Sanders, Jr.||CB||5'7, 176||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7829|
|Eric Sutton||CB||5'10, 170||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8081|
|Michael Clark||S||6'1, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8062|
|Christian Davis||DB||6'0, 160||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7955|
8. A new lineup every week, part 2
The secondary had its moments in 2015, on three occasions holding opponents under a 95.0 passer rating (against North Texas, USF, and Tulane). Five opponents completed under 55 percent of their passes, and for the season, SMU allowed a 59.2 percent completion rate, a not-completely-awful 77th in the country. Five SMU defensive backs defensed at least four passes, and four of them are back in 2016.
But when you've got a different lineup every week, chances are that your communication and chemistry are lacking. On defense, that tends to create breakdowns. And since SMU allowed 15.7 yards per completion and 31 touchdown passes, I would say that there were a few breakdowns.
With stability could come improvement. The pass defense is closer to being solid than the run defense, and if a steady lineup were to emerge -- say, Horace Richardson and William Jeanlys at corner and Darrion richardson and Jordan Wyatt at safety, with players like Jesse Montgomery, Cedric Lancaster, Deion Sanders Jr., and maybe a freshman or two worked into the second string -- this could be a downright decent unit. Leading pass rusher Justin Lawler is back, too.
I'm not going to pretend this is suddenly going to become a top-40 pass defense, but it should be the least of the defense's worries.
|Josh Williams||5'11, 177||So.||38||38.7||0||5||11||42.1%|
|Braeden West||KR||5'10, 166||So.||27||23.5||1|
|Deion Sanders, Jr.||KR||5'7, 176||Sr.||15||24.8||0|
|Braeden West||PR||5'10, 166||So.||5||6.4||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||75|
|Field Goal Efficiency||68|
|Punt Return Success Rate||28|
|Kick Return Success Rate||33|
|Punt Success Rate||126|
|Kickoff Success Rate||9|
9. A good return game, at least
Punter Josh Williams struggled as a freshman, and SMU must replace a solid kicker in Chad Hedlund. So legs might be a concern. But at least in Braeden West and Deion Sanders Jr., the Mustangs have the return game figured out. And if there's one area of special teams SMU would benefit from being good at in 2016, it's probably kick returns. There will be quite a few of them.
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|3-Sep||at North Texas||128||7.7||67%|
|12-Nov||at East Carolina||78||-10.1||28%|
|Projected wins: 4.7|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-19.9% (98)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||82 / 76|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-10 / -11.6|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||+0.7|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||81% (97%, 65%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||2.6 (-0.6)|
10. Not the schedule for a breakthrough
In the improving AAC, only four teams are projected worse than 90th in S&P+, and SMU is one of them. Of the other three, the Mustangs don't play UCF and have to play Tulsa and Tulane on the road. They also travel to Baylor, Temple, and ECU, and they are given a better than 43 percent chance of winning in only three games.
That's the bad news. The good news: Thanks mostly to returning production on the offensive side of the ball (and decent recruiting), the Mustangs themselves are projected to return to the S&P+ top 100 after two years below the surface. And it isn't hard to see the defense improving a decent amount as well. If this team can break into the 80s, then games against Tulsa on the road and Navy and Memphis at home come within reach.
I don't expect a bowl from SMU in 2016, but I would be shocked if the Mustangs don't take a pretty healthy step forward overall, and if they don't throw a serious scare into at least a couple of solid teams. Morris stripped the depth chart down to freshmen and sophomores for the most part and still engineered improvement. Now he's actually got some experience to work with.