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Mustangs35SMU Offline
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CollegeFootballNews.com
SMU Mustangs
By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Phil Bennett
5th year: 11-35
Returning Lettermen: 42
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best SMU Players
1. RB DeMyon Martin, Soph.
2. SS Joe Sturdivant, Sr.
3. DT Adrian Haywood, Sr.
4. DE Justin Rogers, Sr.
5. WR Bobby Chase, Sr.
6. TE Ryan Kennedy, Sr.
7. LB Wilton McCray, Jr.
8. TE Vincent Chase, Soph.
9. C Ben Poynter, Jr.
10. DE Cory Muse, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: coming
9/2 at Texas Tech
9/9 at North Texas
9/16 Sam Houston State
9/23 Arkansas State
9/30 at Tulane
10/7 at UTEP
10/14 Marshall
10/21 at East Carolina
10/31 UAB
11/11 Houston
11/18 Tulsa
11/25 at Rice

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 1-10
2005 Record: 5-6
9/3 Baylor L 28-23
9/10 TCU W 21-10
9/17 at Texas A&M L 66-8
9/24 Tulane L 31-10
10/1 at Marshall L 16-13 OT
10/8 at UAB W 27-22
10/15 East Carolina L 24-17
10/22 at Tulsa L 20-13
11/5 Rice W 27-7
11/12 at Houston W 29-24
11/26 UTEP W 40-27

In today's quick-fix world, everyone demands an instant turnaround. In football, things occasionally take time.

It's hard to preach patience when teams like UCF, Tulsa, and UTEP go from zero to contender in a season, but SMU has slowly been building under head coach Phil Bennett over the last four seasons.

He has had a team with no experience, he has had a team with no talent, and he has had a team with an ugly combination of the two. Now this is his team, his program, and his stamp on a program that has come up with one winning season in the last 20 years. It's also his best team yet.

Last year, the Mustangs pulled out of a nosedive to win the final three games of the season beating a bowl bound Houston and ruining UTEP's Conference USA title hopes. That proved once and for all that SMU really can become a player in the Conference USA race. It was the only team to beat TCU, and four of its six losses came by seven points or fewer. It's time for all those close losses to turn into wins.

There will be an interesting mix of fast, talented young players, a lot of inexperience, and good building blocks. Bobby Chase leads a deep and experienced receiving corps, DeMyron Martin is one of the league's best backs heading a very fast, very good backfield, and the starting five up front should be fine. However, there's no experience whatsoever at quarterback and absolutely no developed depth on the line.

The attack struggled throughout last season and was never consistent. Now it has various options in its spread formation with several pieces looking to find time in different formations to adapt and adjust on the fly. For a team that has averaged 17.7 points per game over the last 90 outings scoring 14 of fewer in 43 of them, any pop and explosion will be welcome.

The offense might have been bad throughout last year, but the defense has saved the day time and again keeping the team in several games. There's lots and lots of speed in the back seven, but little experience outside of safety Joe Studivant and linebacker Wilton McCray. The line will be fantastic with Adrian Haywood and Justin Rogers among the best in the conference.

Outside of the conference-opening loss to Tulane, SMU had a shot at winning each of the three league losses last year. For Bennett and his program, it's time for some good breaks to come their way. More importantly, it's time for the team to be good enough to make it's own good fortune.

The Schedule: If SMU's dream is to win the West, it has a decent enough schedule to do it with Houston and Tulsa coming to Dallas and missing UCF and Southern Miss from the East. The key will be getting off to a hot conference start with road trips to Tulane and UTEP that might make-or-break division title hopes. The non-conference schedule is nice and fluffy after the opening day game at Texas Tech with Sun Belters North Texas and Arkansas State along with Sam Houston State.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB DeMyron Martin. Martin exploded at times throughout his true freshman season ripping up TCU, East Carolina, Rice and UTEP, but he was held in check by Tulane and Marshall. He's a strong workhorse who'll be a 20-carry back from the start and a 1,200-yard runner if he can stay healthy.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS Joe Sturdivant. The leader of the secondary didn't just lead the team in tackles last season, he led the team in tackles with 33 more than the number two man. He's like a free safety when the ball is in the air, and he hits like a linebacker.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB Justin Willis. The only SMU quarterback with even a lick of experience, Chris Phillips, is playing fullback/tight end. Willis has a ton of talent and the type of running ability to be a do-it-all playmaker, but he's going to need time to figure out what he's doing. Teams are going to load up to stop DeMyron Martin and the running game until Willis proves he can take advantage of what's being given to him.

The season will be a success if ... SMU has a winning season. There are way too many holes to win the West, but the schedule is nice enough to expect seven wins and a possible bowl bid. At the very least, it would be a disaster if this is another losing season.

Key game: Sept. 30 at Tulane. The Green Wave only won two games last year, and one of them was a 31-10 blasting at SMU for the only Conference USA blowout loss the Mustangs suffered. It's the league opener this year for SMU and will be a must win with a trip to UTEP coming up the following week.

2005 Fun Stats:
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 110 - SMU 60
- Penalties: SMU 76 for 660 yards - Opponents 57 for 502 yards
- Field goals: SMU 18 of 22 - Opponents 12 of 23

The Last Time SMU?
?played in a bowl game?1984 (Aloha Bowl vs. Notre Dame)
?missed a bowl game?2005
?pitched a shutout?1998 (Hawaii)
?was shutout?2004 (Fresno State)
?scored 50 points?1999 (Northridge State)
?went undefeated?1982
?won a conference title?1984 (share, SWC)
?had a 3,000-yard passer?1978 (Mike Ford)
?had a 1,000-yard rusher?2003 (Keylon Kincade)
?had a 1,000-yard receiver?1978 (Emanuel Tolbert)
?had a first-round draft choice?1986 (DB Rod Jones and RB Reggie Dupard)
05-17-2006 01:32 PM
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