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SMU will get better at some point under head coach Chad Morris, last year just wasn't that year after finishing 2-10 overall with only one win in the AAC. With a returning quarterback and hopefully a healthier defense, the Mustangs plan on doubling last year's win total. Or at least there's hope of that.
Under Morris, SMU was decent offensively running the power spread, but still struggled to be good at a consistent rate. Their season finale last year in which they were shut out shows that. Quarterback Matt Davis should be better in his second season in this scheme after showing improvement in 2015. He passed for 16 TDs and 7 INTs, but also led the team in rushing with 761 yards and 10 touchdowns. The backfield returns everyone as well with Xavier Jones (634 yards, 10 TDs) and Braeden West (326 yards, 2 TDs). More is expected from these guys this season.
But to be better on the ground, the offensive line has to do more. They return just two starters from last year's group so it's unlikely they'll be immediately better. At the least, stud receiver Courtland Sutton (862 yards, 9 TDs) is only a sophomore and he'll continue to draw double teams in this offense. Someone else needs to step up along side him, though, whether it's Shelby Walker (11 receptions), Xavier Castille (23 receptions) or Ryheem Malone (23 receptions).
With that said about the offense, the defense allowed an astronomical 45.7 points per game last year and were gashed in pretty much every game. Part of that was because there was no depth and injuries accrued throughout the year. Of course, there's only one way to go but up for this group.
There are five starters back from last year, but the number of experienced players is much bigger due to said injuries. That can be seen across the field with upperclassmen filled throughout the defense. But also, there are plenty of promising youngsters with linebacker Kyran Mitchell, corner William Jeanlys and safety Jordan Wyatt.
SMU should be better than a year ago, simply because the defense can't be any worse. They get to start on the road at North Texas, a team they beat at home last year. From there a win against Liberty could make two early wins. But a tough early-season AAC schedule could hamper confidence early on, with three road games sandwiched around a meeting with Houston in their first four conference games.
The Mustangs were much better offensively under Morris last year and should improve with better line play this year. If that's the case, it should automatically mean a win or two more. But reaching a bowl game will depend on the defense. Their over/under at 5 Dimes sportsbook was surprisingly at 6, but in mid-June the under was -540 if that says anything. Reaching six wins would be more than impressive for SMU this year.
2016 SMU Mustangs Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at North Texas
Sept. 10 at Baylor
Sept. 17 vs. Liberty
Sept. 23 vs. TCU
Oct. 1 at Temple
Oct. 7 at Tulsa
Oct. 22 vs. Houston
Oct. 29 at Tulane
Nov. 5 vs. Memphis
Nov. 12 at East Carolina
Nov. 19 vs. USF
Nov. 26 vs. Navy
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