Team: SMU Mustangs
Conference: Conference USA - West
Location: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas
2006 Record: 6-6 (4-4)
Coach: Phil Bennett
|09.15||@ Arkansas State|
In no particular order, 5 players of interest from SMU:
- DeMyron Martin, RB, Jr.: Martin was injured early in the season and led the team in rushing despite only playing 7 games for the Ponies. Much of SMU's success will depend upon SMU developing a consistent running threat and Martin is the clubhouse leader. SMU's biggest problem is that, as a team, they only rushed for 7 rushing touchdowns all year. Given SMU's fairly weak rushing attack (Willis excluded) this should be a team that Tech dominates up front and this game may be a nice litmus test for Tech's future performance against the run. In other words, Tech needs to dominate SMU's run game right out of the gate. Martin's a big back (6'2"/230) who can more than handle 25 carries a game for the Mustangs, but Bennett must be willing to commit to the run game first.
- Corey Muse, DE, Sr.: Muse is the most effective returning pass rusher for SMU and this is a team that held its opponents to 107 yards rushing per game and were fairly aggressive pass rushers as well (see exceptionally interesting stat below). It will be interesting to see how Tech's new offensive line will handle Muse. Muse had 6 sacks and will need to anchor a defensive line where he's the only returning starter (sound familiar?). The smart money is on teams to look to control Muse and as a result DE Patrick Handy and Charlie Berry will have to contribute more than they did last year.
- Justin Willis, QB, So.: The unquestioned leader of this team and had an incredibly productive year for a freshman quarterback. I recall watching Willis play on that televised game between Denton-Ryan and Soutlake Carroll and thought that this kid might not be major college material, but he's just the type of quarterback that could go to a school rung below and make a difference. Willis threw for 2,047 yards, 26 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions and he rushed for 354 and 3 rushing scores. He was a one man show for this SMU offense. Once again, it will be interesting to see how this Tech offense deals with a quarterback who can run (Isn't it ironic that he played against Chase Daniels in the aforementioned game?) and is efficient throwing the ball. Remember, Willis only had 69 passing yards last year in his first collegiate game against Tech (I think he split time with a guy named Slater), not pretty, but he improved as the year progressed.
- Emanuel Sanders, WR, So.: SMU has another outstanding sophomore in wide receiver Sanders, 46 receptions for 605 yards and 9 touchdowns. Not necessarily a game breaker (only 13.2 yards per reception), but is certainly more than capable making plays for the Ponies. Once again, it will be a great opening season test for the Red Raiders and this defensive backfield which may be the strongest suit for this Tech defense.
- Damon Hurst, MLB, Sr.: Hurst has to step into the role vacated by Reggie Carrington who recently left the team according to Coach Mustache. SMU was counting heavily on Carrington to lead the Mustangs, but now Hurst, who has a career 8 tackles for his career is leading this team. Without a doubt, Tech has got to take advantage of an apparent weak spot in the linebacking corp and should Woods get back in the good graces of Coach Leach, I'd look for Captain Mike to exploit the middle of the field.
Key Mustang Statistics:
- 27.08: The Ponies ranked 40th nationally in scoring last year.
- 22.95: Behind Emanuel Sanders SMU ranked 21st nationally in kickoff returns.
- .08: On the positive side of turnover margin and 51st nationally.
- 7.17: 12th in the nation in tackles for loss.
- 2.67: 100th in the nation in sacks allowed.