Everything the SMU Mustangs do as a college football program is part of a greater/larger story; and a very compelling tale at that. “Pony Excess” seems to be the new consensus favorite in the ESPN 30 for 30 series. And it was a really kick-as documentary; it tells the story of SMU’s history, their “everything’s bigger in Texas” style corruption during the 1980s, and the unprecedented NCAA death penalty that followed.
It also highlighted the SMU sanctions, and the prodigious losing that followed. (which no doubt served as the inspiration for the Texas State Armadillos in the early ’90s classic film “Necessary Roughness.” But Pony Excess ends with the inspirational story of June Jones reviving the program and getting the Pony Express another long-awaited bowl win. The Mustangs lost the C-USA title game and their bowl game last year, but in 2011 the pieces are in place to keep moving forward.
With eight starters returning on each side of the ball, it’s time to go up another notch.
2010 was: white collar football bringing a 7-7 season. You always hear about a “hard-nosed” run-oriented team playing “blue collar” football. So I’m going to go ahead and name any team with a high-octane, sophisticated passing game basing their offense as “white collar football.” Jones’ run n shoot was exactly that, as QB Kyle Padron threw for almost 4,000 yards (a school record), 31 TDs and 14 INTs. But they can run it too. RB Zach Line went for almost 1,500 (more than any back other than Eric Dickerson in school history) and 10 TDs. However, the offense got inconsistent down the stretch and the Mustangs record suffered.
BMOCs: Padron, Line. WR Aldrick Robinson is gone to the Washington Redskins, but Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley can step up and fill in nicely. On defense, the stars are at linebacker, especially Ja’Gared Davis (yes, I thought that was a bad ass name too)and Taylor Reed.
2011 will be fruitful if: the defense makes big strides during its third year in the 3-4 scheme. They weren’t bad last season and the system is very well suited to its personnel. And we know “The stars at night, are big and bright (on offense) deep in the heart of Texas” so if the D is presentable again, and the special teams can figure something out, the engines in these Mustangs will roar loudly down the highway of C-USA football.
2011 will be awful if: SMU can’t compete with Tulsa and Houston for the C-USA West Title. Another bowl win would be nice, less than 8 wins would be a huge disappointment. They also need to figure out their awful special teams. There’s issues everywhere, but the punt return is laughably atrocious as they averaged less than 5 yards a return in 2010.
Bottom Line: If they play with a “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. CAN’T LOSE!” mentality in Texas, (hey, tonight is the final Friday Night Lights) they should go 9-3 or better. With all that veteran experience in tow, June Jones’ 4th year in Dallas should be his finest. They haven’t won a league title since 1984 (yes, the Dickerson/Craig James teams that were corrupt as hell) and that was in the now defunct SWC. Time to add another chapter to this very engaging story.
SMU Rankings: #49 Athlon, #53 Lindy’s, #63 Phil Steele
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