UPDATED: 07/22/2013 - 11:04AM
Why To Get Excited … the Mustangs are taking a stiff tailwind into their maiden season in the AAC. SMU won its final two games of 2012, including a Hawaii Bowl rout of Fresno State, 43-10, on Christmas Eve. The program expects to reap the benefits of participating in a more recognized league, leveraging larger TV audiences and better postseason opportunities into greater success on the recruiting trail.
Why To Be Grouchy … SMU will be facing a new slate of competitors with a lot of new starters on both sides of the ball. The Mustangs got whacked via graduation a year ago, and now must replace three starting offensive linemen and some of 2012’s premier players. Of the seven players named First or Second Team All-Conference USA, including standouts Zach Line, Margus Hunt and Ja’Gared Davis, just one, CB Kenneth Acker, remains on the Hilltop.
The Number One Thing To Work On Is … the secondary. Acker is a fine place to start, but he won’t survive on an island in 2013 without more help from the safeties and his fellow cornerbacks. While the Mustangs picked off 21 passes, 13 came in blowouts of Stephen F. Austin and Houston. And the DBs too often allowed opposing receivers to get behind them. Worse yet, Hunt, Davis and LB Taylor Reed are no longer around to apply pressure, and take some heat off the overmatched pass defenders.
Team Concerns For 2013: The Mustangs have some huge replacements to be made on both sides of the ball, especially on the defensive line that loses all three starters including huge pass rusher Margus Hunt. Three starters are gone on an offensive line that was awful in pass protection, but the biggest problem is with an inefficient passing game that was never consistent. The secondary that gets back all four starters has to be far tighter after giving up 278 yards per game.
Non-Conference Games: TCU, New Mexico, Eastern Michigan
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 2-10
Likely Finish: 4-8
--Credit to Scout.com for the article.